Question (FB & Commonplaces)

Has anyone written about Facebook working as modern day commonplaces?

I mean, wikipedia suggests that “[s]ome modern writers see blogs as an analogy to commonplace books,” but I see Facebook posts has a much more similar connection. Considering that blogs are there to produce content more than just post it, then I’d say that blogs are closer journaling and facebook, which many of us use to post various articles, music, pictures, etc, could tie in with commonplacing.

I’m just wondering if anyone else has had any insights into this?

Easy Access to Harlot’s Blog on Facebook

However debatable Facebook’s new layout is, it does allow you to access Harlot‘s Facebook blog app with great ease from your Facebook account. This, I believe, is worth noting for you dear compatriots of Harlot and Facebook.

First is first. If you haven’t already accessed and approved the app from your account, you can do so by clicking this url:

The second step is to bookmark the application. This is how you do that:

1. Go to “Account” and click “Application Settings.”

2. Find “Harlot Blog” and click “Edit Settings.” (If you haven’t used the Harlot app in over a month, then you’ll have to change the top right drop down menu from “Recently Used” to Authorized” and find the “Harlot Blog” in that list.)

3. Choose “Bookmark” from the pop-up menu.

4. Click the box to check “Bookmark Harlot Blog.”

Yay! It’s bookmarked! Let’s return home.

Lastly, you know that column on the left of your home screen? The one with your profile picture, news feed, etc:

To see your bookmarks, click the “More” at the bottom of that list. This will show you the “Harlot Blog” app.

From now on, you’ll just have to click on that link to take you to Harlot‘s latest blog posts right from Facebook! Of course, we love it when you stop by the site or use your favorite feed reader too. Don’t be a stranger now, ya hear?

Google’s buzz-kill

Those of you who use gmail no doubt noticed this week’s launch of “Google Buzz,” another social networking project. I clicked in briefly, figured it was just another variation on Facebook, and went back to my emailing.

But it turns out plenty of people reacted much more strongly — and for good reasons. What I didn’t look too closely at was an immense consolidation and public-ization of Google-related activities: “Your Google Reader shared items, Picasa Web public albums, and Google Chat status messages will automatically appear as posts in Buzz.” And I was automatically linked in — “14 people are already following you.” Creeeeepy.

Google’s ready-made network revealed common email/chat contacts, leading to all kinds of privacy breaches. And in this case, the stakes are far higher than the romantic escapades common to Facebookers. In today’s NYT coverage, Miguel Helft points to the difference:

E-mail, it turns out, can hold many secrets, from the names of personal physicians and illicit lovers to the identities of whistle-blowers and antigovernment activists. And Google, so recently a hero to many people for threatening to leave China after hacking attempts against the Gmail accounts of human rights activists, now finds itself being pilloried as a clumsy violator of privacy.

As Evgeny Morozov wrote in a blog post for Foreign Policy, “If I were working for the Iranian or the Chinese government, I would immediately dispatch my Internet geek squads to check on Google Buzz accounts for political activists and see if they have any connections that were previously unknown to the government.”

The key point here, of course, is that despite the publicity trends online, people still think of email as a private realm — and Google ripped down that curtain, leaving people feeling exposed and vulnerable. And they’re pissed.

Google is known for releasing new products before they are fully ready and then improving them over time. But its decision to do so with Buzz, coupled with its introduction to all 176 million Gmail users by default, appears to have backfired.

“It was a terrible mistake,” said Danny Sullivan, a specialist on Google and editor of SearchEngineLand, an industry blog. “I don’t think people expected that Google would show the world who you are connected with. And if there was a way to opt out, it was really easy to miss.”

It seems that Google was just so darn excited — and expecting its users to be same — about the idea of enabling more seamless access and interaction to think much about the consequences… which is just funny, consider how astutely my undergrads note the risks. You’d think the Google team could keep up with our “intro to digital media” conversations.

Digital Rejection or Connection

CNN Tech brings us “Defriending can bruise your ‘digital ego,'” which is all about just that. A lovely, succinct title, don’t you think? With much of our communication moving to digital formats, our interactions seem to take on varying moves of importance. A coworker who talks to you on the job, but who refuses to accept a friend request can be squishy territory. There’s no question that these digital devices change the way we communicate, but it makes me wonder if it changes the nature of our relationships.

A local magazine, UWeekly, wrote an article recently about “Text Dating–” the phenomenon of getting to know a person through text first before having much real world interaction with them (which I find kinda funny–most people would have already met in person in order to exchange numbers, no?). According to the article, this makes it more difficult for people to know how they should act once they are in real world contact. Ain’t that interesting?

I’ve often wondered if all this texting is similar to old time letters in any way. A fair amount of letters that were written during the civil war, for example, had such tenderness. I mean, yeah, they were soldiers who talked about people dying too, but the feeling they displayed for the recipient of the letter was heartfelt. Here’s the thing, though. They almost had to be forward in their feelings, because there weren’t other forms of accessible communication–they couldn’t just call, text, email, facebook, etc. Being forthright in their written communication was necessary to maintaining their relationships. Texting is not always a forthright thing (and sometimes it’s too forthright). So, attempting to create a relationship based on digital communication can be a hard thing to do. Perhaps it’s because it hasn’t been done to the same degree that other forms have. Maybe there is a reason why we choose that form–it’s distancing, but still revealing.

By choosing this digital form, it’s as if people learn a lot of facts about each other–schools attended, parties attended, favorite books, etc–but without knowing a person’s soul. Oooo, deep moment for today, right? But really, can you really get to know a person via the digital? If you can’t interact with that person and see how they shut the fridge door with their foot or chew on their pen caps, then can you be clued in to all that necessary non-verbal communication? Plus, do these digital digs give us the opportunity to always present our best (or worse) selves? Does that mean that a person feels connected to another or to the representation that that person gives?

Technology has a significance in our lives. When someone defriends you, it stings. It would still sting to the most selfless person ever, but where is the line between using technology as a tool for staying connected and expecting technology to do all the work for us?

the e-reading experience

This past weekend I found myself participating in a lively (and at times heated) discussion about the future of the book and the value of the written word on paper vs. online.  The characters nestled around the table at which the discussion ensued included a professor of medieval literature, a poet/writing teacher, a fiction writer/rare book salesperson, an aspiring writer, and a college composition teacher (myself).

The discussion began when the medieval literature professor said she was troubled by students asking if they could read ebook versions of the assigned texts in her course.  She knew her answer to the students was no, but she said she also knew she had to think more about why that was her immediate answer.  Certainly, she said, it’s important for literature students to read the specific edition she chose (because she chose it for a particular purpose), and certainly students need shared editions so when the class performs a close reading of a particular passage, they are all looking at the same text and can easily find it with the same pagination.  But she knew there was another reason she said no to ebooks and it was more about the value of reading printed texts as opposed to etexts–about the different reading experiences students would have whether they read the text in print or online.

I quickly snapped in points about the cost of books and how ebooks could cut down on students’ expenses (a good thing, I believe) and also the changing nature of our students’ reading experiences and processes.  Many of our students are now growing up reading online and reading etexts, so I tried to argue perhaps students could have valuable reading experiences reading online the same texts we first encountered in a hardbound book.

The medievalist and the poet disagreed, and the poet added that she will not submit her poems to a publication that exists only online.  She doesn’t want her poems read in an electronic version, she said.  She wants them read on paper.

And this got me thinking about Harlot, and about our readers’ reading experiences.  All of us sitting around the table agreed that online publications can contain multi-media texts that can’t be reproduced in print journals, but a few at the table insisted that the same written text printed in an online publication could not possible be read the same way as it could be on paper.  Agreeing that the reading experiences would certainly be different (as of course the reading experience depends on so many factors, not just the form in which it appears), I was a bit concerned by the undertone of a value judgment being attached to those differences.  The woman who works in the rare books department of a well-known book store added to the conversation the issue of how “valuable texts” can only be bought by those with the proper resources, and how hard it is for her to observe people buying rare books solely for the purpose of owning them, rather than for an appreciation of the text itself.

All this is to say that I’d like to participate in and hear more discussion of people’s reading experiences with publications like Harlot. What do our readers gain and lose by experiencing our submissions solely online?

Mashup Culture Runs into Gaming Culture

By this point, I think most of us are familiar with the mashup. The most notable mashups that come up usually involve music or film.

i.e. Girl Talk:

i.e. Kate’s last post about Buffy and Twilight or, one of my favorites, “40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes:”

But! Check this out. Now, people are mashing together different kinds of video games. Seriously, go play Tuper Tario Tros. This flash game combines Mario Bros. and Tetris (both personal nostalgic favorites) into one game, where it is necessary to switch back and forth between the two in order to win the game. I find this particularly interesting, because instead of the mashup living in the traditional static manner, this forces the consumer to interact with the mashup and to decide when to switch from one to the other. It’s a new era of mashup.

Other video games like DJ Hero have similar vibes, but a player cannot independently decide when to switch over. The challenge there is to follow what is already constructed. Plus, it’s still jazzing off the the same music mash idea, but Tuper Tario Tros doesn’t and it’s totally up to the player to decide when to switch over. If the player thinks that they can get Mario to make a jump, then they can stay in Mario Bros. mode, but if they’d like the extra help of some blocks, then they can switch over to Tetris mode to build up a bridge or something. It gives the player choice.

If we want to analyze this youngerish generation as being a remix culture, then this creation of choice is crazy pertinent. Doesn’t this indicate that in this progressing remix culture, it’s not only important to be able to bring our multiple resources together, but to choose when we do so and to choose how we interact with it. Ooooo, I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

(Tuper Tario Tros link via facebook.)

Buffy the Twilight Slayer

I’m still working on that digital media syllabus, so… playing around on YouTube. (Work is hard.) And there I stumbled upon this little gem from artist-activist Jonathan McIntosh:

It made me so happy, for a couple of reasons:

As a longtime Buffy fan (not to mention feminist), I can’t get on board with the Twilight phenomenon. Last year a student of mine wrote a rhetorical analysis of the first novel. She choose the text because although she really enjoyed the books, she felt kind of uncomfortable about the idealized relationship between Edward and Bella. And rightfully so: Her astute analysis finally led her to the conclusion that Edward fits the Harvard psychological profile of an abusiver stalker, and that Meyer’s version of love and abstinence disempowers her predominantly young, female fan base. (For more, see Christine Seifert’s “Bite Me (or Don’t)” or Anita Sarkeesian’s “The Real Reason Guys Should Hate Twilight,” among innumerable others.) This remix does a great job, I think, of humorously highlighting just those problems–and the comparative awesomeness of Buffy.

From another angle, I can’t wait to use more of McIntosh’s work in the classroom. The digital media course, which I’m centering around narrative genre(s), has me thinking a lot about fair use, remix, and how everyday composers can engage in public conversations about the texts that affect them and their culture. And this sleek, smart, and legal film works to demonstrate how effective and fun such rhetorical narratives can be.

For more from McIntosh about this remix, see his guest blog post on WIMN’s Voices. And definitely check out his other works at Rebellious Pixels.

Visual calm

I’m guessing all of your eyes and minds are as exhausted as mine after a day of work, which, for many of us, contains a fair amount of web wanderings. (I’m prepping a course in digital media composition, so I get/have to spend a lot of time looking for and at teachable texts and sites. Any recommendations are always welcome!) It’s not just the wretched pop-ups or those expanding ads, but all the colors, links, sidebars, and navigation tools that distract the reader from the actual text under examination. My burning eyes and burnt brain have seemed like an inevitable side-effect, a necessary evil. Until now!

David Pogue’s “Pogie Awards for the Year’s Best Tech Ideas” in today’s New York Times introduced me to a groovy new (and, like all the best tools, free!) button for your web browser that promises, as Pogue says, to be a “real life-changer.” Readability clears all of the pesky distractions away from the central text under consideration, leaving only a simple, clean, and customizable view. Check out the difference between Pogue’s original article and the Readability version:

Pogue's original NYT article view

Pogue's article viewed through Readability

How cool is that?!?! My new year’s gift to you: some breathing room for your eyes.

Fashion Tech

Christmas gift for the fashion technology forward?

If your clothes are supposed to say something about you, then this dress says you’re afraid of the dark? Or, you’re the light of the party. Ha!

LED Dress Lights Up Your Wardrobe and the Night

And this shirt says you have trouble being alone? (Actually, this one I can see as beneficial for kids. Let’s say Mommy or Daddy have to go on a business trip, but they can still hug little Sally or Sam before bedtime. It’s a nice thought.)

The Hug Shirt

Technology in my wardrobe. . . I might be geeky enough for that.