Crowdsourcing Gruwell’s “Wikipedia’s Politics of Exclusion” article

Here, we’ll continue the discussion we began in class today about Gruwell’s recent article, “Wikipedia’s Politics of Exclusion: Gender, Epistemology, and Feminist Rhetoric (In)action.”

We did some freewriting already on what ways Wikipedia “privileges partriarchal methodologies and epistemologies” that are “exclusionary” and then considered in our class discussion how “Wikipedia functions as a rhetorical discourse community” (118).

This is a challenging article (on many levels), so let’s first tackle what the article is actually saying by crowdsourcing Gruwell’s main claims (thesis, points, evidence in support of those points) here. Then we can also unpack them, asking clarifying questions, complicating them, challenging then with provocations and counter-arguments, etc.

Don’t forget to include citations in MLA format when you refer to the text.

To code or not code?: That is the question

We should consider ourselves architects of spaces and places, and authors and guides for interactors navigating through these often networked, socially mediated spaces (Carroll 31).

We have been discussing all semester the mediated, interactive, networked, multimodal nature of new media composing. However, it is often easy to forget about some crucial aspects of how digital (new media) texts are actually composed, what kind of “behind-the-scenes” stuff needs to happen for us, as “architects of spaces and places” in the digital world actually can build things.

A number of our readings have mentioned the importance of having a working knowledge of coding (as well as the workings of the web more generally), what it is as well as the basics of how to actually do it. Consider the following few excerpts:

  • “He [Marc Prensky] further explained that the next language to be mastered is the language of programming” (Cohen & Kenny 6).
  • “We think the savvy user should have a working knowledge of how the web works and why. Understand the basic functions of the systems of participation will help you to speak the language and create on a higher cognitive level, enabling you to become a leader in the digital environment and make higher-quality work” (Cohen & Kenny 49).
  • “Although many web writers and editors aren’t asked to build websites from scratch, they should be aware of how web-authoring code works and how it makes digital content manifest in a browser window (Carroll 45).
  • “Web writers and editors do not necessarily need to become proficient in these web programming languages, nor do they necessarily need to know how to develop an app. But it certainly helps to be able to hand-code pages and to understand the capacities and limitations of these coding languages” (Carroll 45).

So, the major debate at stake here is: “to code or not code?” Some thoughts, to get the conversation rolling:

  • What, if any, is your knowledge of coding?
  • Do you have any experience coding? What are you feelings towards coding? (fear, annoyance, empowerment, etc.)
  • Do new media writers need to know how to code?
  • How has the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) nature of much of today’s digital platforms changing the need for (and our knowledge of) coding? Is coding necessary?
  • Do you feel that coding should be an integral part of the work you do as a student in the PTW major, and beyond in your career?
  • How/why is (or could) coding be useful in your professional life? What is to be gained by coding? (is anything lost by it?)

(friendly reminder: don’t forget to check out the purpose / expectations for this, and other Class Discussions, before you get started here)

Class Discussions

Throughout the semester, we will continue discussions we are having in class (or start new ones) on our OpenLab course site. There are low-stakes conversations, but crucial to our work together this semester (consistent, engaged participation in OpenLab Class Discussions is a significant component of your OpenLab Composing grade for the semester).

The goal is to participate early and often, to ensure good virtual discussions that will help you to think critically about the readings/ideas/projects of the course. Therefore, your comments need not be very long: for example, you can provide an idea, provocation (question meant to spark discussion/debate), provide quote/citation (MLA format) and a few sentences of explanation of how/why it functions in the context of some larger issue/question, raise questions, complicate issues, extend discussions, analyze a new media text, etc. You can also link to outside sources, broadening the scope of our conversation beyond the texts we are reading together, and strengthening your ability to find/analyze/synthesize various pieces of evidence in support of claims/arguments.

For each Class Discussion, you should provide initial responses (in the form of “comments”) as soon as possible, to get the conversation going, and then return to the Discussion to continue it, posting multiple comments, and also responding to others (not just to the initial prompt). If you’ve already discussed some of these instances in your previous blogs or in class, you should feel free to draw on that material. The Class Discussions will remain open through the semester, so you should feel free to continue the conversation even beyond the original week we are actively discussing it: your ideas will continue to grow/change as you do your work, so our Class Discussions remain an living archive/forum to return to, a space for us to work through this evolving knowledge of new media composing.

I also strongly encourage you to begin your own class discussions, when you come across something in the readings that you want to discuss further (perhaps something you don’t quite understand, or agree with), or something (such as an article, video, etc.) that you are connecting to the course and that you want to share with others. Anyone should feel free to start a Class Discussion post at any time (just categorize it as “Class Discussion”).

Response Blog #2: The September 11 Digital Archive

One of the texts you will be working with this week is the The September 11 Digital Archive. You should browse through the website, which (in its own words),

“uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath. The Archive contains more than 150,000 digital items, a tally that includes more than 40,000 emails and other electronic communications, more than 40,000 first-hand stories, and more than 15,000 digital images. In September 2003, the Library of Congress accepted the Archive into its collections, an event that both ensured the Archive’s long-term preservation and marked the library’s first major digital acquisition.”

After browsing this crowdsourced, multimodal archive, you should blog a response/reflection to 9/11 (categorize it under “The September 11 Digital Archive”).

This Friday is the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and the day holds different (and often quite personal and emotional) meanings for each of us. Therefore, the exact nature of this blog is up to you. You should in some way respond to your experience and reading of The September 11 Digital Archive, thinking about it both as a new media text and an archive of a tragic event (this is a very challenging task, to try to look at this both objectively and subjectively).

What does it mean to aggregate all of these stories, all of this data about the event? How do these stories, together, represent an overall picture of the event’s unfolding? How do the materials in this archive differ from other types of reports on the event? etc. However, I encourage you to pair this response with a personal reflection about the 9/11 events or their aftermath and/or a discussion of an article or media about the event (if you choose this approach, please try to link to the text … there will be a lot of media discussion about 9/11 due to the upcoming anniversary of the attacks). If you’ve been to the 9/11 memorial you can blog about your experiences there as well.

This assignment is really is an open-ended post that encourages you to bring in your own experiences/reflections and to use a variety of media (whether images, audio, video, links to other sites) to describe those experiences and reflections.

No Response Blog Due for Tomorrow :)

Hi ladies! A quick note to say that my Labor Day gift to you is … no response blog for tomorrow 🙂

We’ll do a good deal of writing over the break in classes the next few weeks, when we’ll be using OpenLab to stay in conversation even when we don’t meet in person as a class. Therefore, use this time to catch up on all the readings (re-reading them, if necessary), and make sure you have mastered them.I expect everyone to have all assigned readings (to date) in class with them tomorrow, with their notes/questions, and to be ready to present to the class on any of the material covered so far, including in-class discussions (this will count as an oral quiz). See you at 2pm!

&, thanks Pamela for posting the Class Notes!

Reminder: First Response Blogs Due (& some thoughts to get you going)

Hi ladies … thanks for the great Introductions! Just a friendly reminder that for tomorrow you have your first reading response due. All blogs are always due the night before class, at 11:59pm (so technically this first post is due tonight!), but since this is your first blog and the reading was a bit heavy, you can submit your posts until 1pm tomorrow. Yay for me being nice 🙂

Just a reminder that you should check out the OpenLab Composing section on our site, to learn more about expectations and guidelines for your posts. Your response blogs should definitely show that you’ve done the reading (so you should reference them), but you should not spend the posts simply summarizing the material. Find something in one of the readings (or multiple readings: synthesis is good!) that strikes you, that you are intrigued by, or have questions about, and that you want to discuss. Maybe you were struck by the concept of “mediation” in the “Mediated Me” chapter and want to discuss how your life is mediated by various technologies, and the affordances / constraints they offer. Or maybe Manovich’s “Principles of New Media” prompt you to analyze some type of new media you encounter on a daily basis, and think about how they fuction. Maybe, in light of the readings, you want to use this space to think through, comparatively, how you compose in different settings (digital, networked, print, etc.). Or maybe you want to revisit the two Virginia shooting articles in light of this week’s readings, considering how new media is a key component of those stories. Or maybe something else entirely. This choice is yours: the only thing to keep in mind is that your discussion should be grounded in the texts you read, and should show you providing critical analysis and connections among the readings and your experiences / lives (and remember, it’s ok–and encouraged–to post things you didn’t fully understand, and to post questions to the class for further discussion!). I encourage you to provide images, videos, links, etc. in your posts as you see fit.

Happy blogging!

Getting to Know Professor Belli

I’m an Assistant Professor of English at New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City University of New York) and Co-Director of OpenLab, the college’s open-source digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating. I’m one of the core faculty in our departments new B.S. degree in Professional and Technical Writing, and also teach courses in Literature (science fiction, utopias, dystopias) and first year writing.

I’m also a founding member of the Writing Studies Tree, an online, open-access, interactive academic genealogy for the field of writing studies, and serve on the Steering Committee, the Teaching Committee, and as the web developer for the North American Society for Utopian Studies (utopias/dystopias overlap quite a bit with science fiction, an intersection we’ll be discussing throughout the semester!).

I stumbled upon this cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was delighted to see its name almost mine (close enough!). In Russian, it means "once upon a time" ...

I stumbled upon this cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was delighted to see its name almost mine (close enough!). In Russian, it means “once upon a time” …

I earned my Ph.D. from The Graduate Center, CUNY, and my current research interests are in utopian studies, happiness studies/positive psychology, composition and rhetoric, digital humanities, American studies, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (feel free to ask me what any of these areas are!).

I played ice hockey in college (right wing), and have played the violin since I was two years old (and currently play in the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. I practice yoga pretty regularly, love Thai food (the spicier the better!), kale, & tzatziki, and adore watching old sitcoms from the 70s and 80s (some of my favorites are MaudeThe Mary Tyler Moore ShowRhoda, Soap, All in the Family, The Golden Girls (I’m even writing a book chapter on this show!), The Facts of Life, & Family Ties).

I also really enjoy travelling: two summers ago (when that photo above is from) I spent five weeks wandering abroad, in Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, and Switzerland, and this past summer I did a road trip to Michigan and Wisconsin (some of all of these travels were for conferences/work, some for vacation/fun)!

I look forward your reading your Introductions and getting to know you, first virtually and then in person, as the semester progresses :)

Creating your “Introduction” Post

“Introduction” Posts (HW for F 8/28)
In order to start exploring the site, getting comfortable with posting/adding media (blogging), practicing reflective writing, and getting to know one another, please make sure to create an initial post that introduces yourself to the class.

*This Introductory Post is due no later than F 8/28 @11:59pm, but I encourage you make this initial post as soon as possible to become comfortable with OpenLab and to give others a chance to learn a bit about you).

Content of Posts
Tell us a bit about yourself … what are your interests, hobbies, desires? Current job or internship? Career goals? What did you do over summer break (and what do you plan to do over the upcoming winter break)? Share some photos of you (you can either pull a photo from the web if you have one up there, upload one from your computer, or … you can even take one with your smartphone right now!) and your family, friends, neighborhood, etc. Practice adding a link and maybe even a video to your post too.

At the end of your post, please address (in at least a paragraph) the following questions (not necessarily in this order):

  • What your strengths/weaknesses as a writer/reader/thinker?
  • What do you enjoy/dislike most about writing/reading/(critical) thinking?
  • What is your background with using OpenLab & technology more generally (it’s OK if you don’t have any!)?
  • What is your sense of new media is [JB, update as of M 8/31: the original reference to “science fiction” was a typo, but I’m still excited to see your responses on it!] (what is it? who writes it? why reads it? what’s its purpose? etc.)? Don’t do any research for this … just state what you think it is, prior to entering the course (think back to the freewriting and group discussions we had in class today, our assumptions, preconceptions, stereotypes, etc.)?
    • What do we think about when we think about “new media”?
    • What do we think of when we hear the word “new”?
    • What do we think of when we hear the world “media”?
    • Who writes (produces) new media?
    • Who reads (consumes) new media?
    • Why are you taking this course?
  • Why did you choose to pursue a B.S. degree here at City Tech in Professional and Technical Writing?
  • What are your expectations for this course/semester (what you think you will learn and what you hope you will learn)? Any questions?

Categorizing/Commenting on Posts
Don’t forget to categorize your post as “Introductions” (and uncheck “Uncategorized” if it is checked already by default). If you forget to do so before you “publish” you post, you can go back and edit/update it after the fact.

I made an Introductory post about myself (if I’m asking you to share some of your personality/background with the class, it’s only fair that I do the same!), so you can get to know me a bit better as well and also so you get a sense of what this type of post might look like/include.  Browse through everyone’s posts (if you choose the “Introductions” category for the right side of the homepage, you will be taken to all of these posts) and drop comments to get some conversation going and start building our class community for the semester!

How to Add Links, Images, & Videos to Posts

Adding links to your posts is really simple, and it’s also a wonderful way to share other resources with our community and to engage in dialogue with other authors/sources. To add a link into your post:

  1. copy the URL of the webpage you want to link to
  2. highlight the text in your post that you want to become hyperlinked
  3. click the “insert/edit link” button (looks like a paperclip above the post screen)
  4. paste the URL into the “URL” space
  5. type in the name of the link into the “Title” space (“title”)
  6. click “Add Link”

And you’re done. It’s that simple! And you can always edit or remove the link later on, if you need to do so.

Here’s a quick tutorial about how to do add images:

1.  When you decide you want to add an image to a post, click either on the button with the camera/music notes and the words “Add Media” that is on the top left of the editing box (you can also. Remember that your image will show up within the post wherever your cursor is when you click “Add Media.” So if you want to insert the image in the middle of your post, make sure to put it there.

2.  If you are choosing a file from your computer, you can then browse for it (the same you would if you were uploading an attachment to an e-mail) by clicking “Upload Files” (if you add to the Media Library first, you can also select your image from there).

3.  Once you find the image you want, click “Select.”

4.  You can then edit the image (e.g., to rotate it) … make sure to click “save” after editing it.

5. You should re-title the image to make it easier to manage/find later on (ex: Jill Belli, Introduction Photo). If you wish, you can also add a “description” and “caption.”

5.  At the bottom of the screen you can change the “alignment” and “size” of the image.

6.  Don’t forget to click “Insert into Post” (NOT “Save Changes”) at the bottom.  If you don’t click “Insert into Post,” the image won’t show up in your post when you publish it (it will just be added to our site’s “Media Library” … more on that later in the semester).

7.  You can always click “Preview” before you click “Publish” to see what the post will like like after the images are added. Make sure, however, once you are satisfied with your post, to click “Publish” (you can also click “Save Draft” to continue to work on the post later, but no one else will be able to view the post–and I won’t be able to give you credit for it–until you hit “Publish”).

Adding a video to your post from YouTube is about as simple as it gets. Simply copy the URL of the video into your post, and click “Publish” (as with links and images, don’t forget to contextualize the video a bit, and tell us whose it is and why you’re including it in your post). It will automatically appear (and can be played) right from your post. Woohoo!

Editing / Revision your Posts

*Remember, if you don’t like something (either the post or the image), even after it is published, you can go back and change it (just click “Edit” and work away).  That’s the nice thing about blogs … you can keep revising 🙂

Blogging: Writing, Categorizing, & Commenting (on) Posts

If you’re unsure how to get started posting (blogging) on our OpenLab course site, here’s a quick overview:

Once you’re logged into OpenLab and on our course site, you can easily make a post. Simply click the plus sign (+) on the grey menubar (the admin bar) at the top of the screen, and from the dropdown menu that appears, choose “Post.”  You can also go to your “Dashboard” from the same grey menubar, and this will take you to the “back end” (the control panel) of the site.  From there, you can post (in the lefthand menu, click “Posts” and then “Add new”) and do a number of other things.

Don’t forget to “Categorize” your post before submitting it (see below for more details on that), and then to “Publish” your post (if you only click “save” or “preview” it won’t be public).  Happy blogging 🙂

*A quick note about categorizing blog posts:

Just a friendly reminder to “Categorize” your posts so that it will be easier to navigate our site later on (also, I won’t be able to grade your work if it is not in the right category!).  To do this, after you finish typing your post up, choose the appropriate “Category” from the right side of the screen.  For example, after you type up your “Introduction” blog, you should make sure to check off “Introductions.”  Otherwise the post will simply show up as “Uncategorized” (we don’t want that because it will just dump eveyone’s posts into one general place and our course site will become very disorganized/chaotic as we produce a lot of content throughout the semester).  You may have to uncheck the “Uncategorized” category (which is the default).

Oh yeah … and you should chat one another up!  How do you do this? By commenting on your classmates’ posts:

One of the great things about the blog is its interactive, networked nature … people post, others read and make comments, and then conversations happen and ideas get exchanged!  Please read through everyone’s posts and drop comments if you feel so inspired (you can comment in reply to another comment also).  To do this, simply type in a short comment in the “leave a reply” box at the bottom of the post.

Please note that you can respond either to the original post or a specific commenter!