Monday, February 6, 2012

Reading, Thinking, & Reflecting Notes - February 6, 2012

This week's reading assignment was to finish both Lingua Fracta and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I read Chapters 5-7 and the Coda in Lingua Fracta, and one thing that I noticed after reading through the entire book was that it it is really difficult to discuss any one of the canons in isolation without considering how it relates to the others within the given framework.  Chapter 5 covered Perspective (style), Chapter 6 covered Persistence (memory), and Chapter 7 covered Performance (delivery).

In considering "new media," it seems that the visual elements of "perspective"
and "style" have been reborn.  This is a graphical representation of Samuel Marolois's
Mathematical Theory on Perspective (Andersen 2007).  This drawing seems like a good analogy for new media -
stairways, hallways, and rooms in every direction, often without a concrete destination.
(Image Source: Royal College of Physicians)
As a linguist, I found Mary Hocks' (2003) explanation of rhetorical theory as a "dynamic system" coupled with Stafford's (1998) theory that it is rather a "dynamic system of strategies" to make a lot of sense (pg 116.).  When you consider how new media usage is creative yet patterned, it is like the grammar of a language. This debate reminds me of the ongoing battle between the "prescriptivist" and "descriptivist" ways of looking at grammar - there's the "static" book version of grammar, and then there's the "dynamic" way it is actually used... either way you look at it, the usage is patterned!

I was also interested in the discussion in Chapter 6 about Aristotle and his views on stylized language (pg. 118).  Again, I felt like there was a close connection to a topic I am familiar with - sociolinguistics.  The quote, "The responsibility for avoiding [the risk of excess], for maintaining appropriateness, falls to the rhetor, and it is a responsibility that persists to the present day in our attitudes toward language - from word choice at the barest syntactic level to issues of intellectual property and authorship on a cultural level (pg. 118)" stood out to me because it made me think of concepts that I had studied as a grad student such as language variation and ideology.  Furthermore, Aristotle's (1991) theory of rhetoric placing a distance between the language and its user in that conscious decisions must be made depending on subject, audience, style, etc. reminded me of the linguistic concept of "codeswitching." Then, lo and behold, the author stated that this rhetorical theory, taken with his definition of metaphor could be seen at the "level of code." *enter lightbulb*

On page 120, Brooke provided a definition of perspective. "Perspective is a method for displaying three dimensional objects and/or scenes on a two-dimensional space." In the same chapter (pg 128), I found another definition that was helpful to me:
  • hypertext - links a passage of verbal discourse to images, maps, diagrams, and sound as easily as to another verbal passage
 Finally, at the conclusion of Chapter 5, I liked how the author tied the conept of "perspective" back to "interface" by stating that the meaning of the interface depends on and is defined by the user's interaction with it.... kind of like in the Matrix!

(Source: Cyber Punk Review)
I found it interesting how Brooke pointed out how the last two canons, which were presented in Chapters 6 and 7 (memory and delivery), have traditionally fallen by the wayside.  Since rhetoricians have traditionally analyzed static, written texts, the two canons have somehow lost significance.  With the dynamic, ever-changing nature of new media, these canons can be resurrected as Persistence and Performance.

In Chapter 6, which covered "Persistence," there was an extensive discussion on "memory," which tied well into the material we covered in Chapter 5 of New Media: Key Concepts, "Archive."  I also enjoyed the part about collective history and the role media plays in it.  The author gave the examples of two historically significant events - Rodney King and the Challenger (pg. 149-150).  I was a bit surprised not to see some more recent events, namely those that occurred on 9/11/01, or George W. Bush's "Operation Freedom." Then again, I feel like those events happened during some sort of transisition, when "old media" was starting to take advantage of new technologies such as live streaming in this video, which burned these events in our collective memory (no pun intended):

More recent historical events awere not only archived by, but driven in real-time, by social media. For example, the Arab Spring of 2011:

 This man represents the "youth."  The protest sign speaksof change through social media.
The sword represents the terrorists and their version of change.
 You can see the man holds the protest sign high as he releases the sword.
(Translated by ELC Student, Fisal Ahmed)
(Image: Riccardo Guidi)
In Chapter 7, one of the points that stood out to me most fell within the topic of "credibility."  As an instructor - especially one in an ESL/Higher Ed setting - web credibility is a significant issue when teaching how to find and cite sources.  I was intrigued by the concept of "distributed credibility," which was introduced on pg. 185.  Distributed credibility can be determined by considering "skillfull design, image quality, usability, information structure, comprehensiveness, absence of self-interest, usefullness," and so on.  I will definitely start incorporating this information into my lessons - I never thought about those things, and always have encouraged my students to only look for names, dates, connections to "real texts," etc.

I found this video on YouTube that imagines the future "evolution" of Google:

I wonder how far off we are from this in [virtual] reality?  I think this story embodies many of the concepts we have been considering in the two theoru-based texts we have read together so far in this course.  From the ecologues of practice we looked at in Lingua Fracta to the key concepts (network, information, interface, archive, interactivity, and simulation).   

I'm very much looking forward to discussing DADoES in class. 


Andersen, Kristi. The Geometry of an Art: The History of the Mathematical Theory of Perspective from Alberti to Monge. Springer, 2007. Googlebooks. Web. 5 Jan. 2012.

Brooke, Collin Gifford. Lingua Fracta. Creeskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, Inc., 2009. Print.

Dick, Phillip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Del Rey, 1968. Print.


  1. I love your choice of the representative image. It is a good one that will "stick" to help make the content stick as well.
    I appreciate your reflection and connection to code switching. It helps give all of us something to "cling" to and make meaning.

  2. I agree. These images, especially the one for perspective, resonate. I was reminded of MC Escher's work. The Matrix is an excellent metaphor for constructs; my first viewing of those films took their potential and complexity so for granted. Love the rebel sign with social media icons--Brilliant backwards remediation!