Monday, December 1, 2008

I Heart Blogging! Connecting Girls Studies’ Voices to T&T

As many of you know, I am working on my PhD in Texts and Technology (T&T)—an English degree at UCF. While I have played with social networks and blogs in my personal and professional spaces for some time, I only recently found theoretical homes for the work I have been doing. As part of my theory-based Introduction to Texts and Technology course, I decided to utilize our Girls Studies blog as part of my "Digital Artifact" assignment. The assignment asks us to:
…design, produce, create, modify, or otherwise bring into being an artifact that makes a point about relationships between texts and technologies. […] The object must include new media tools, connect in some way to class readings and discussions, demonstrate relationships between texts and technology, and be thought-provoking. (Bowdon)
I created our Girls Studies blog as part of a Summer assignment that inspired me to take online class discussions out of closed, password-protected forums and into more open spaces. The nature of Girls Studies makes it an appropriate place to experiment with blogs because girls are frequently engaged with electronic spaces like blogs, social networks, and other multi-user domains (MUDs). I try to connect my teaching practices with course content as much as possible, and this was a prime opportunity. Many of you (my Girls Studies' students) expressed that you enjoyed the blogs and found unique opportunities to express yourselves here. You have also expressed a desire to continue participating with the blog after the semester ends. This was my goal--to engage you and others interested in Girls Studies (particularly/hopefully girls themselves) with this blog beyond class requirements. Because, as we have learned from our class discussions, the issues raised in Girls Studies impact us daily—as women, as individuals, as ex-girls, and as potential parents of future girls (and boys!).

I look forward to the potential this blog holds for each of you, for students of Girls Studies in future classes, and for others who find our blog via various avenues. I have included quotes from each of the theorists I have read in my Introduction to Texts and Technology course that relate to blogs. Some of these writers speak about blogs specifically but most of them address technology in a broader sense applicable to our use of technology through this Girls Studies blog. A couple quotes are countered by the power and potential of blogs, while others direct us to this power. I hope you will find this blog entry relevant to the work you have done here and that these quotes will inspire you to continue participating in a technological culture where your voice is central—where you are a creator, a producer, and participant of technological culture rather than a mere consumer.

What do/did they know about blogging? More than we might realize…
What did they imagine?
What do you imagine??
BecauseWe are the future of technology.

This is (y)our revolution.
Sincerely,Your Teacher

"The Internet is another element of the computer culture that has contributed to thinking about identity as multiplicity. On it, people are able to build a self by cycling through many selves" (Turkle 178).
"A new form of 'politics' is emerging, and in ways we haven't yet noticed. The living room has become a voting booth. Participation via television in Freedom Marches, in war, revolution, pollution, and other events is changing everything" (McLuhan 22).
"The new medium compels us to acknowledge that all previous forms of writing are as much technologies as fully computerized hypertext—that writing itself is not merely influenced by technology, but rather is technology" (Bolter 239).
"…what if television, playing video games, and surfing the Web are actually good for you? What if exercising the modes of cognition demanded by visually sophisticated video game and Web environments could actually increase one's intelligence?" (O'Gorman 72)
Language is the tool of human self-construction, that which cuts us off from the garden of mute and dumb animals and leads us to name things, to force meanings, to create oppositions, and so craft human culture" (Haraway 81)

[Ong articulating Plato's charges against writing and, by extension, computers] "a written text is basically unresponsive. If you ask a person to explain his or her statement, you can get an explanation; if you ask a text, you get back nothing except the same, often stupid, words which called for your question in the first place. [] Writing is passive, out of it, in an unreal, unnatural world. So are computers. (Ong 79)
"I have proposed the term "democratic rationalization" to signify user interventions that challenge undemocratic power structures rooted in modern technology" (Feenberg 108).
"…in the United States, blogs have taken on a very different character. There are some who use the space simply to talk about there private life. But there are many who use the space to engage in public discourse. Discussing matters of public import, criticizing others who are mistaken in their views, criticizing politicians about the decisions they make, offering solutions to problems we all see: blogs create the sense of a virtual public meeting, but one in which we don't all hope to be there at the same time and in which conversations are not necessarily linked" (Lessig 41).
"The computer is providing us with a new stage for the creation of participatory theater. [] The more persuasive the sensory representation of the digital space, the more we feel that we are present in the virtual world" (Murray 125).
"Fifteen years ago in popular culture, people were just getting used to the idea that computers could project and extend a person's intellect. Today people are embracing the notion that computers may extend an individual's physical presence" (Turkle 20)
"The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village" (McLuhan 67).
"Blog space gives amateurs a way to enter the debate—'amateur' not in the sense of inexperiences, but […] meaning not paid by anyone to give their reports. It allows for a much broader range of input into a story…" (Lessig 44).
"In an electronic information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other" (McLuhan 24).
"The transformative power of the computer is particularly seductive in narrative environments" (Murray 154).
"Technology has […] given us an opportunity to do something with culture that has only ever been possible for individuals in small groups, isolated from others. Think about an old man telling a story to a collection of neighbors in a small town. Now imagine that same storytelling extended across the globe" (Lessig 185).
"One important method of making systems easier to learn and to use is to make them explorable, to encourage the user to experiment and learn the possibilities through active exploration" (Norman 183).
"…this book is for those who are concerned about the future of [education] in a digital culture, and who seek to resist the dehumanization of higher education, which is carried out blindly in the name of 'technological process' (O'Gorman xvii).
"As human beings become increasingly intertwined with the technology and with each other via the technology, old distinctions between what is specifically human and what is specifically technological become more complex. Are we living life on the screen or life in the screen. Our new technologically enmeshed relationships oblige us to ask to what extent we ourselves have become cyborgs, transgressive mixtures of biology, technology, and code. The traditional distance between people and machines has become harder to maintain" (Turkle 21).
"The best of blog entries are relatively short; they point directly to words used by others, criticizing with or adding to them. They are arguably the most important form of unchoreographed public discourse that we have" (Lessig 41).
"Web-based distance education has already changed the way we understand the university, but it has simply transposed print-centric habits (with varied success) into new learning space. I believe that the transformation of the academic apparatus is most likely to occur by means of physical agents that engage directly with the traditional material structures of learning, from the essay, to the classroom, to the entire campus itself" (O'Gorman 103).
"When we step through the screen into virtual communities, we reconstruct our identities on the other side of the looking glass. This reconstruction is our cultural work-in-progress" (Turkle 177).
"To change the material artifact is to transform the context and circumstances for interacting with the words, which inevitably changes the meanings of the words as well. This transformation of meaning is especially potent when the words reflexively interact with the inscription technologies that produce them" (Hayles 24).
"The fundamental problem of democracy today is quite simply the survival of agency in this increasingly technocratic universe." (Feenberg 1o1)
"An emergent property, materiality depends on how the work mobilizes its resources as a physical artifact as well as on the users interactions with the work and the interpretive strategies she develops—strategies that include physical manipulations as well as conceptual frameworks" (Hayles 33).
"Writing had reconstituted the originally oral, spoken word in visual space. Print embedded the word in space more definitively" (Ong 123).
"The solution now is to find radical political resources immanent to technologically advanced societies" (Feenberg 108).
"It is not a matter of emancipating truth from every system of power […] but of detaching the power of truth from the forms of hegemony, social, economic, and cultural, within which it operates at the present time" (Foucault 75).
"The Internet has become a significant social laboratory for experimenting with the constructions and reconstructions of self that characterize postmodern life. In its virtual reality, we self-fashion and self-create" (Turkle 180).
"The more realized the immersive environment, the more active we want to be within it. When the things we do bring tangible results, we experience the second characteristic delight of electronic environmentsthe sense of agency" (Murray 126).

These Quotes Were Lifted From the Following:
Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. NewJersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 1991.
Feenberg, Andrew. Questioning Technology. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Hayles, Katherine N. Writing Machines. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2002.
Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004.
O'Gorman, Marcel. E-Crit Digital Media Critical Theory and The Humanities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy. New York: Methuen & Co., 1982.
McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. New York: Bantam Books, 1967.
Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press, 1997.
Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Rabinow, Paul, Ed. The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.

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