Friday, August 24, 2007

Thinking ahead

I just finished the first week of classes, which followed a full week of workshops--the semester is all downhill from here. We adjusted our placement procedures this year, and as WPA, I ended up fielding I don't know how many emails and calls. I've gotta admit that I actually like this part of the job--extremely fast-paced, problem-solving in nature, intense information management, I can generally help students and they are genuinely grateful (not always true of students in my classes : (

I wonder how many other WPAs like this part of the job? It seems gruesome to many of my colleagues.

In the midst of doing laundry on a hip and happening Friday night in Fargo, I started to think about the research I need to do this semester / year. My target conferences are GPACW, C&W, and WPA. I want to do something with McLuhan's hot and cool, Bolter and Grusin's immediacy and hypermediacy, Lev Manovich's film and database, and Scott McCloud's big triangle at GPACW--not too ambitious. I actually need to go back through this blog and find my notes.

C&W is the conference that I really thought about tonight, the conference with the "aah haa" moment. The theme is "open source: technology and concept," and while I haven't got much to say about open source technology, I keep trying to do what I would just call "open projects"--the Trivium Wiki, a CMS for our department website, other wikis for classes, blogs for classes--and I quite frankly haven't had any luck getting buy-in on any of these projects (except for Andy, but he is easy). It might be worthwhile to do a little reflection, a little research on online communities, and figure out what I keep doing wrong. Initial thoughts--the Trivium wiki is not open enough; too strong of an authorial stamp already on the piece. The department CMS; not enough time for others, not a sufficiently dynamic site or concept. We might be able to carve out a dynamic slot on the site, but ultimately it is going to fall on a few shoulders. Something like this could be turned into a potentially interesting paper; I wonder how well other departments have done with their CMS approaches? Clay wrote about the limited success at TTU about 5 or 7 years ago I think.

I also hatched an idea for a new MEmorial, and MEmorials ideally are "open projects" but I have some ambitious ideas for this open project that might limit participation. I want to establish a physical and virtual MEmorial for the citizen-victims of war around the world. The physical MEmorial would be at the International Peace Gardens located on the Manitoba-North Dakota border (ME having live most of my life in either MB or ND); I would like to turn the Peace Garden into a Mecca / pilgrimage site for Global Peace. I would like to see people make pilgrimages from all over the world to this remote, rural location, and then send post cards to the White House, to 10 Downing Street, to any world leader or organization the visitor thinks is responsible for war in the global village, and let those recipients know that they made the long trip to the Peace Garden as one way to express their commitment to global harmony. Would anybody make the trip?

My thinking on the virtual at this point is a video upload site; video blogs, video postcards, even more carefully produced and constructed video pieces that call for reductions in global violence in various forms. The virtual and the real would need to be connected, of course, through one site, probably with a web cam at the Gardens; maybe people can download images from the Peace Gardens, photoshop themselves into the pics, and then upload or send their own post cards? That defeats the purpose of establishing a real pilgrimage / mecca location, which might be a sad but realistic compromise.

And what would this have to do with C&W? A proposal for an open project that would acknowledge up-front the challenges of building community and getting contributions. More PR for the genre of MEmorial?

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