Reputation as Ethos for the Responsible Netizen

I picked up the quizercise from Karl Stolley (who, I am pretty sure, just adapted Janice Lauer's "writing opportunity"): every Monday, before we begin discussing the week's readings, I ask students some kind of question that calls on them to connect the reading to the larger goals of the class. This week, I opened with a discussion of the importance of MLA citation (since I had caught a few students liberally borrowing material without proper citation). We had read from Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs for class that day, and I asked them the following: focusing on a specific passage or idea from Smart Mobs, explain why an English teacher might discuss the importance of MLA citation before discussing Smart Mobs. Circular? You betcha! But I like giving them these kinds of meta-questions, just to see how well they are beginning to understand my underlying aspirations for the course.

Often, I write answers to my own quiz questions--though I give myself some liberties to stray off-topic (I give my students the same liberties, essentially they have ten minutes to prove to me that they have done the reading!). Here's what I wrote in response to my own question:

In Smart Mobs, author Howard Rheingold suggests that the most productive social networks develop "bottom-up" measures for establishing authority and filtering out free riders. He writes:

Self-monitoring is part of successful grassroots collaboration, a kind of many-to-many surveillance by mutual consent. If governance is to be democratic rather than Hobbesian, maintenance of social order requires technologies of mutual control."

We can think of citation as a kind of surveillance system constructed by the mutual consent of scholars and researchers. Through citation, scholars pay respect to the intellectual work of others, acknowledging contributions even as they criticize oversights. And, although MLA standards might at times come off as Hobbesian, we should remember that these standards change in response to new technologies through grass-roots practice (right?)

The digital world makes it quite easy to bypass such grassroot intellectual systems. As such, many Universities and academic institutions are turning to more top-down, rigid structures to ensure reputation (such Turnitin.com) or outlawing the use of digital environments altogether (such as the movement away from Wikipedia and digital sources).

I strive for a different solution. Rather than ignoring the pitfalls digital technologies engender, I seek to face them heads-on, discussing the epistemological and ethical challenges digital environments place on our intellectual traditions. Specifically, I believe that citation of web sources encourages students to be responsible, reputable net-i-zens.

End response. That's been sitting in a text-edit file on my desktop for a few days now, I figured rather than saving it to a corner of my hard-drive, I'd just shoot it out on the interweb. I've got to write my letter of application for my job market group this weekend, so perhaps I can revisit some of those ideas...(the current draft I have, which is terrible, discusses my dissertation, approach to new media, and approach to teaching in terms of fostering cohabitation and linking classical and contemporary theory to practice).


A New Dark Age?

Argh. Me tired. Baby cry. Dissertation hard. Job market taxing.

I wanted to take some time, gather what brain power I could, and point to an interesting post over at the Long Now Fondation on the New York Times' decision to allow free access to their web publication. Mrxk put up a quick reflection on the Times going free the other day, highlighting something that excites most of us in the Free Culture movement:

Starting on Wednesday, access to the archives will be available for free back to 1987, and as well as stories before 1923, which are in the public domain, Schiller said.

This is fantastic, no doubt about it. What Alexander Rose, author of the Long Foundation article "Is there more cultural value in the New York Times or Mickey Mouse" wonders about those missing 64 years. Perhaps we would like to read those articles too. Perhaps.

Those familiar with Lawrence Lessig's work Free Culture already got the reference from Rose's title. Those missing 64 years are caught up in the current legal and congressional debates over copyright (or copywrong, depending on one's perspective). The Disney corporation's powerful lawyers and lobbyists spends millions, as in hundreds of millions, to protect their intellectual property. And for the past 64 years this has meant preventing the constitutional update of public domain. As Rose points out, given the complexity of copyright law, the Times couldn't give that material away if it wanted to.

Rose ends his essay with an interesting quesiton:

I wonder what people will think about this time far into the future? A dark ages — not created by war, famine, depression, or even technological failure, but a small whistling mouse.

While hyperbolic (hopefully?), Rose raises an interesting question, one which I have been circling for some time now. if our economic and cultural development becomes increasingly dependent upon the free exchange and remixing of information, then how long until our strict intellectual property regulations begin to cripple us? I've been working a lot with Tapscott and Williams' 21st century business primer Wikinomics for my diss. They stress to CEO's and managers that failure to integrate a corporation into the free-flowing open source communities blossoming on the web could lead to stagnation, alienation, and bankruptcy. Hmm... what about the rest of us? How might continuing legal restrictions stagnate other aspects of our culture?


My New Homepage Ate My Blogger Design. Sort of.

marccsantos.com got a new look today. I wanted something minimalist and clean before I head out on the job market. The design corresponds to the visual design of my other job materials (CV, cover letter, dissertation summary). The face-lift isn't complete, but I had enough done that I figured I would through it up there.

Problem: in taking done the old site, I also took deleted many of the images used for this blogger design. So... this site will have to go broken for a bit. I teach in 33 minutes, lets see how much of this blogger site I can fix in between now and then...

Update: K, ten minutes later and I think I'll found every instance of the ole green design. Sh*t- missed the "about" me box border color. And these boxes look hideous. Headers are an abomination against usability. Back to work.

Update #2: Well, the stupid f#cking Purdue server decided to kick me off-line while in the middle of my revision, but I managed to make some more changes. I have to fix the dotted borders around comments, change the text-color for post headings, and get rid of the border around the "about" box (missed this twice apparently). But its gettin' better.

Update #3: I'll have to check this on a PC tomorrow, but I feel like I'm getting close to my new homepage design. I've got the font-family in place for my headers (font-family: 'Gill Sans', 'Trebuchet MS', Arial, sans-serif; ) and have got the borders pretty well done. The next big project will be to replace the ul li images in the sidebars.

Update #4: I haven't found the time to touch-up the blog. I've been working on the diss (first chapter draft is creeping up to page 60) and have been working on job materials (CV, diss summary, letter of application Oh, My!)


Goin' Technorati

Technorati Profile

Wii and Lightsabers.. so why am I so nervous?

Mrxk shot me an email today with the subject: "End of Civilization." The link, of course, was to the announcement that the Force Unleashed was porting to the Wii. I should be really excited. But I'm not. Let me explain.

The game is a port from the other next-gen system, and while the early descriptions talk about taking advantage of the Wii's controls, its unclear to what extent. Nothing against Zelda, but I'm looking for quality swordplay, not random controller shaking.

Even if there isn't hand to hand live action combat, I'm hoping they might come up with some kind of Okami-like scheme where action temporarily pauses while users "draw" moves, then unpauses and translates the drawing into special swordplay sequences. (The SSX Blur snowboarding game for the Wii does something similar with both hands, and it works pretty well).

But, not to kill the excitement, I don't see this kind of depth happening with a port. Here's what to watch for: timeline. If this game comes out next summer, or even late next spring, then buy me an adult pacifier. Seriously. But, if you see this game this Christmas, then be weary. It could be the difference between Resident Evil 4 and Tiger Woods 2007. And, trust me, that's quite a bit of difference. But, oh God, this could be so bad ass...

Class notes, tech day, week five

Today we are going to work on integrating you a bit more into your online community. So, we're going to use del.icio.us to explore your community.

  1. Log into your del.icio.us account. Make sure you have your "post to del.icio.us" or "tag" button (we'll be using that one today).
  2. Next, I want you to add me to your network, this way you can see what I'm posting, and I can see what you're posting.

Next, we're going to do some Google searching for good blogs, well, great ones actually. I want you to find five to seven resources in your area--at least four of which are blogs. As you find them, post them to del.icio.us.

Once we have a collection of sites, we're going to set up Google Reader accounts. Google reader is a kind of RSS feed. This will help you to see when your blogs are putting up new posts.

Using these technologies should help you generate ideas for posts and to integrate yourself in the community. You can always link to a story, offer a paragraph of summary, and then give some analysis / reaction--this is what many blogs do (and what Johnson was referring to with his rainforest metaphor).


More Anti-RIAA Ammo

I've been pretty busy working on the first chapter of my diss (hopefully I'll have more on this soon!), but I wanted to throw up a quick post pointing to a recent story on Joystiq. It seems online video game sales are already beginning to outpace video and music sales.

So, in recent days, months, and years, as old media mogules continue to complain about how piracy ruins profits, remind them that its not just piracy. It has more to do with people choosing to invest their attention in new media, other media. I suppose they'll want to make that illegal too.

Wish I had time for more, but I got to get back to work.


Birthday Card

This is making the internet rounds.

Proof positive that I am an internet nerd: I find it quite funny.


Football Predictions

I don't have much time for these this year, but it wouldn't feel right if I didn't make some predictions. So here's a quick couple of lists:


  • San Diego Chargers: The only thing this team lacked last season was playoff experience. Now they have it. I don't thikn Norv Turner will be the cancer some people expect--he's a talented offensive co-ordinator with a defense that should be able to coach itself. Though a bit weak at WR, the Chargers should win the division and hit 12-13 wins.
  • Indianapolis Colts: They took some substantial hits on defense, but that's not what has me placing this team third. Three words: rookie-left-tackle. And they don't have TE's built for pass blocking (can you really see Dallas Clark "helping out" against Terrell Suggs?). And they don't regularly use a full-back. Prediction: Peyton Manning will get hit harder than he ever has in his life this season. 12-4
  • NE Patriots: Not to be a homer, but it is same old, same old in NE. Wes Welker will end up being the best WR on this team--his talent for making the tough catch over the middle will throw him right in Troy Brown's (where's Troy!?!) role. I do have a number of questions for this team: can Malroney stay healthy (probably not), will Seymour come back (probably not), can Harrison stay healthy (probably not), So, I see a good season, not a great one: 11-5.
  • Baltimore Ravens: Oh my goodness this defense is good, even after losing AT. But I think their offense will really benefit from McGahee--I think there's plenty of gas in his tank. 10-6.
  • Pittsburg Steelers: I hate the Steelers. But I think everyone is sleeping on this team. Yes, they have a new coach who will probably meddle with a defense he shouldn't. Yes, they lost Joey Porter. No, they didn't make any significant, over-the-top acquisitions. But, they have a healthy and motivated Ben. And I think having a clear-headed quarterback for 16 games will make a big, big difference. 10-6.
  • Buffalo Bills: I know the Jets are the sexier pick, but I think Buffalo has made some strides. Losman played outstanding toward the end of last season, and I think he will continue to grow. It won't be pretty, but I think Buffalo "toughs out" that last playoff spot, just edging out the Bengals: 9-7.

AFC Championship Game: Chargers beat the Patriots, 24-21. Ouch.


  • New Orleans Saints: The defense has to play better, simply because this offense won't be sneaking up on people this season. I wish they made a significant addition. 12-4.
  • Dallas Cowboys: Tono Romo will be terrible (there's a reason this "franchise qb" rode the bench behind Bledsoe for three years...). But this defense will terrorize people. This could be the best defense in the NFL. And their two running back system could wear down opposing defenses. 11-5.
  • Chicago Bears: Oh God, if any team should be interested in Leftwich, its this one. If they ditch Rex (or he masters his split-personality issue), then this team could be significantly better than I think. But, Cedric Benson is not Thomas Jones, particularly as a receiver. This is an offense that can ill afford to lose dimensions. 10-6.
  • San Fran 49'ers: Great defensive upgrades and the best running back in the NFC not named Jackson. 10-6.
  • Tampa Bay Bucs: Yup, this is my "that's insane" pick. But, the NFL tends to be insane. I have no faith in Carolina anymore- though their running game, defense, and Steve Smith could make me regret this pick. I think Gruden pulls it together, Garcia improves the whole offense, and the D plays with something to prove. 9-7.
  • Phily Eagles: Donovan McNabb doesn't lose, so this is a pretty low risk pick. I like their defense, Westbrook fits this system perfectly, and this team always seems to have that intangible toughness. They'll squeak out this playoff spot over the defense-less Rams and QB-less Vikings (another team who should be throwing themselves at Leftwich--with a quality QB, this would be my Super Bowl pick).

NFC Championship Game: No freaking idea. I kinda want to pick the Vikings, even though I don't think their current QB can take them to the playoffs. So, how about this: 49'ers beat the Cowboys, 20-14. Yup, whatever.

Superbowl: the Chargers decimate whoever wins the AFL, mean NFC, championship game, 33-10.

That is, of course, unless the Vikings sign Leftwich. Then, all bets are off... (God, I love the NFL)


Week Three, Computer Session

As you put the finishing touches on your mission statements, I want to turn and start thinking about your first individual post. And, in doing so, I wanted to offer examples of the kinds of posts, taking note of their structure. One thing you'll notice about these posts, as you will notice about all interesting posts, is that they always do more than summarize. They all involve summary, but they also do something else to invite audience participation.

Here's a list of different kind of posts:

  • X is more important than most people think because of Y
  • X makes me wonder about Y
  • X should be applied to Y
  • X is significant because...
  • the best X of all time
  • the top ten X (and whY)
  • You probably don't / I just learned about X

For a detailed example of X should be applied to Y, lets examine a post from Collin Vs. Blog. This blog typically deals with issues in rhetorical theory, but also occasionally offers insight into popular culture. Here's his recent post Pricing Oneself Out of the Market. Here's a great example of X idea should be applied to Y. In this case, Collin offers a nice, succint description of a new television show he has been watching. He then details a specific theory proposed in the television show [that less often sells more]. He then uses this theory to argue that NBC has dropped the ball regarding the sales of episodes on iTunes.

For an example of a top ten list, here's a recent post at 40 Acres Sports.

For an example of X is significant because, there's a good example over at FireDogLake.

For an example of You might not know about X, check out a sample post from Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools site.

What we don't want to see in your posts is straight summary! Good posts do more than summarize, they contextualize, compare, contrast, expose, critique, defend, or offer insight. In other words, they present some kind of argument.


Things and Stuff

Everything moves a bit too fast for me to offer any meaningful reflection on fatherhood. While I don't recognize any substantial changes so far, I'm sure they're there. Favorite thing: any smile. Smiles usually signify gas, but you don't really care why she's smiling. I can't describe what an awesome and inspiring feeling that gives. Least favorite thing: crying. The nurses in the hospital even noted that our baby is, um, loud. Quite loud. And she has no quams about vocalizing her displeasure. Sometimes you can do something about it: (have your wife) feed her, change her diaper, burp her. Other times its just gas, and there's nothing you can do but wait it out. Difficult.

Here's a list of things I would like to write more about but don't have time:

  • I don't think any other sport has something as magical as a no-hitter. Awesome. Congrats to Buckholtz. I'm already wondering whether Schilling will make the playoff rotation...
    And, Jerry, not only was it a curve ball, it was a paralyzing curve ball. Awesome
  • I can't blame Rodney Harrison for using HGH given his condition (he blew every ligament in his knee last season). If I had an accident, and my brain was broken, and I could take a pill to fix it, except RSA ruled that any rhetorician using this pill would take a one semester ban even though doctors often prescribed this pill to "civilians" with the same condition, then, yeah, I would take the pill. See you in a month, Rodney.
  • Metriod 3 Prime Corruption is out for Wii, and it is very good. There's quite a few difficult puzzles in the game, and less firefighting than I expected. One complaint: boss battles, though cool, tend to last a bit too long and grow tedious. Other than that, a very cool game that plays well with the Wii's controls. My second favorite game for the system, slightly ahead of Zelda and behind Res4
  • Found this article on adaptive artificial intelligence on l. today, a new robot that "teaches" itself to walk and can adapt to changes made to its body. The video reminds me of E.D-209 from Robocop.

Well, that's about all for today. I'm enjoying a relaxing holiday weekend before things get crazy... tomorrow.