Just so you realize where I come from...

My wife is a member of a local baby group, recently a Red Sox and a Yankee fan have been engaging in some good natured ribbing. The Red Sox fan recently shared this photo of her son at his first Red Sox / Yankee game:

a spirited young fan flips the bird

Yup. We like to start'em young.


Oh yeah, that's progress

Got the new North American Levinas Society up and running, still needs some beta testing and some proofing, but I'm pretty pleased.


I used some pretty cool Fireworks techniques (when I launched this blog it was to publish tutorial work... that seems like a long time ago) on the dove, providing it some red highlights and glow. Lot of work for something that only I will ever notice.

Got the layout technique from an article in A List Apart. Pretty easy to follow and corrects a problem I run into on my new homepage: --how to make a flexible, two-column layout with the sidebar running the length of the content section. The solution? Essentially, make the border of the content section the same color as the siderbar, then float the sidebar into the exact position of the border. Pretty easy to do. Unlike my homepage, however, I can't use any background-images or even borders for the sidebar. Hopefully, the next-gen browsers will fully support the border-image property.

Spent an hour reviewing the W3C assessibility requirements. God they have to make those more friendly to non-programmers-- I'm pretty handy with computers and whole blocks of that document read like ancient Greek to me. While I'm pretty sure my site passes as the highest level of accessibility, I just gave up.

Have a meeting Friday to move the Levinas site to its permanent address (http://www.levinas-society.org).


Back from NYC

Sigh. Good, no--great pizza. Dunkin' Donuts (jelly, of course--and great ice coffee, the kind made double strength and chilled overnight). People were rude to me, it was great. Sigh.. I'll have a longer post coming later today--while I was in NYC I jotted down some notes for a first-year comp class designed around postmodern art. Essentially, I'm interested in postmodern art because it resists interpretation, and thereby potentially forces students to encounter the Face of the Other (the limits of hermeneutics). Like I said, more to come (now that you're dripping with anticipation). Sigh...



Came across this webtool on Colin Brooke's blog: good, clean fun. It will read any plain text document (and you can just cut and paste from a Word document). Here's what my prospectus looks like as a tag cloud:

created at TagCrowd.com

Pretty much what I would expect, though I'm a bit surprised that Derrida doesn't have a presence... well, perhaps its fitting that he only haunts the document.


Mike Greenberg & Wikipedia

Earlier this morning Mike Greenberg ripped Wikipedia on his ESPN radio show. I couldn't take it, so here's my response: Subject: Wikipedia and people Greenie's problem isn't with Wikipedia, its with people, bad people. He is potentially a bad person. Wikipedia, only five years old, has potential to be one of the greatest research tools ever. It attempts to collect an incredible amount of information. And a recent article in Nature (a scientific journal) showed that wikipedia only averaged one more mistake per page than Encyclopedia Britanica. Oh, by the way, it already contains about 20 times as many entries. The problem with Wikipedia is that it is a community. And every community has troublemakers. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales admits this himself: "It takes a long time to deal with troublemakers," admits Jimmy Wales, the encyclopaedia's co-founder. "Connolley has done such amazing work and has had to deal with a fair amount of nonsense." Just as bad as troublemakers, are people who dismiss Wikipedia because it doesn't give them what they want. Wikipeida is for producers of knowledge, not just consumers. If you don't like a page, update it (and there is fact chekcing in Wikipedia, but considering Greenie can barely handle a sheet of integrity, I would think he would realize that 1,700,000 articles are tough to keep track of--especially by a non-profit organization). Conclusion: Wikipedia is a powerful tool. Wikipedia has people who abuse it. Greenie is a powerful tool. Don't be a tool, Greenie--put your nerd to work. I could have said more in my email, but that's it. God, I'm sick of people complaining about Wikipedia. Sorry people, but our communication technologies are changing. Such a change is liberating, invigorating, etc. But it also comes at a price--and that price is that we actually all have to work now. Sorry. But we are what Barthes refers to as "wreaders," not mere readers. We are all producers (I am producing write now, t might not be right, but it is a digital rite of passage), no longer mere consumers. Information changes dynamically, in real time--it is no longer [seemingly] static. Don't like Wikipedia? Do something about it (this is especially true for educators--make your students do some fact checking. Encourage them to make small changes to pages. Stop thinking that quality research has to finalize into an entirely "original" paper. ARGH.


Can't Resist One Post

Slash.dot's had a running conversation of a recent NYTimes article that included a list of the top ten most important video games of all-time. Their list:

[Henry] Lowood and the four members of his committee -- the game designers Warren Spector and Steve Meretzky; Matteo Bittanti, an academic researcher; and Christopher Grant, a game journalist -- announced their list of the 10 most important video games of all time: Spacewar! (1962), Star Raiders (1979), Zork (1980), Tetris (1985), SimCity (1989), Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990), Civilization I/II (1991), Doom (1993), Warcraft series (beginning 1994) and Sensible World of Soccer (1994)

The list was compiled by collecting entries from experts in the field (and the Slash.dot discussion centers on the fact that there seems to be no clear metric for decisions). Nothing here surprises me--save that I have never heard of the "Sensible World of Soccer." I am surprised that no old school Sierra games made the list (I played significant amount of King's Quest and Space Quest in my formative years--not enough to make the list below, however).

Here's my list, and my metric: these are the games that I have played the most, chronologically, in my life. For whatever reason, they captured my attention and would not let go.

  1. Enduro (Atari 2600, my memory doesn't really stretch back this far-but I remember this game utterly pissing me off. Countless hours were wasted trying to win this fucking race. I'm mad just typing about it)
  2. Castlevania I, II, & III (Nintendo, I was not a huge SMB fan, but this game series was a great addiction)
  3. Madden Football 1990 (Genesis, and you can add every other Madden to this list)
  4. Wing Commander Privateer (Computer, very cool game--kind of pre-dates GTA in your ability to be a "rogue" rather than a typical hero)
  5. Mortal Kombat I & II (Genesis, a college staple, I finished many a dorm-mate)
  6. Doom I & II (Computer, many hours, late at night, wondering where that noise was coming from)
  7. Tekken II (Playstation)
  8. Final Fantasy VII (Playstation, I've played all the others--X was very good, XII was also quite good, but nothing compares to the "original" Playstation release; Sephinroth is the coolest character ever)
  9. Hot Shot Golf I-IV (Playstation - Playstation 2, seriously, I still play this game, so superior to TW Golf it ain't even funny)
  10. Socom Navy Seals I & II (Playstation 2, apologies to my wife, family, and friends. This game took over my life for an entire year. Go Myth)
  11. Grand Theft Auto, (Playstation 2, here's the deal--a part of me really hates these games. The controls are clunky and non-responsive, the camera work needs serious help, and the plots are downright infantile. Yet I play them.)
  12. Resident Evil IV (Playstation 2, I could put the whole Resident Evil and Silent Hill series, given my familiarity with these games. I certainly played the hell out of all of them. But Res IV deserves special recognition--dumb plot, but outstanding game. Outstanding. Did I mention that its awesome... only one game better, actually:)
  13. God of War (Playstation 2, This is so much the best game ever that I refuse to even hear an argument otherwise. Don't bother, I'm not listening. Na-na-ni-na-na. Fingers in my ears. Am nervous about the sequel--don't know if it can live up. This game has everything--awesome controls, great characters, incredible story, and it is fun. It might be too violent for some, but for me its poetry in pixels)

Well, not the best games of all time, just the ones that have eaten up the most hours of my life. Bases Loaded almost made the list. Last summer I played an entire 30 year career as a starting pitcher in MLB The Show. I'm sure I'm fogetting a few more that will come back to me later...


Why Am I Writing This?

Things to do:

  • Prospectus: Progress: 99% Yes, finally, I have a 27 page revised document. Hoo-rah. The one precent remaining? I wrote the document in NeoOffice but am running into some formatting issues. So,I'm going to reformat the document in Microsoft Word before I send it out to my committee. Had meeting with chair, sent out some material to committee for review. I'm at 22 pages (30 page max). Running out of room, but making some great connections.
  • Progress: DONE: Design project parameters for Zen Garden project for multimedia writing class
  • Grade second project for multimedia writing class
  • Upload New Website: Progress: DONE: Got the base files up for marccsantos.com. It still needs some work, particularly a conditional comment CSS file for IE users. But, for now, screw IE users. I have to consider them when I create professional, organizational, and pedagogical pages. But this is my page, and, for now at least, it plays by my rules.
  • "Revise" (add content, fix content, recode content) teaching portfolio for new website
  • Write CCCC's RNF handout (based on prospectus, see first bullet)
  • Progress: 80% done,Finish XHTML coding of Levinas website
  • Finish redesign of Levinas website
  • Post constitution and meeting minutes to Gradsea website
  • Write advanced XHTML and CSS chapters for pet project
  • Begin copyedit of new media book (title escapes me) for Parlor Press
  • Make contribution to COIN network
  • Finish Firework's handout for OWL
  • Finish Moviemaker tutorial with reflection for Kairos and ICAP instructor showcase
  • Draft TLT presentation. Progress: 50%

Sigh. No more posting for me until this list is complete--I'll link to things as they are finished.

Unfortunately, I have even more things to add to the list, Intro Writing Committee work and other such fun-ities.


Derrida's "The Book to Come"

When researching / reading, I usually write notes in text-edit. Usually this stuff never sees the light of day (especially when I'm working off of 4 hours sleep), but today I feel like sharing. Up until now, I've made this a theory-free zone, but that's about to end. At least this has to do with the intersections between theory and technology (the focus of my disseration-to-come). Derrida, Jacques. "The Book to Come." from Writing Machines [delivered 20 March 1997 at the Bibliotheque nationale de France]
The question of the book, as we shall see, is also that of a certain totality. (5)
The question of the book concerns the end of totality, a changing of media that moves away from materiality (book's binding, heard twice) to virtuality. Speaking of the "work" of the "book," Derrida writes:
[...] the unity or body of an oeuvre marked out by a beginning and an end, and so a totality: assumed to be conceived and produced, and indeed signed by an author, a single identifiable author, and offered up for the respectful reading of a reader who doesn't meddle with it, doesn't transform it on the inside--in what we now call an "interactive" way. (6)
This reader, which has never existed (?), is certainly a fabrication in a digital age. This is Ong's reader--outside of the room, of the mind, of the moment of composition. But this is not the readerS one encounters in the digital, the readers that one forms a formative relationship (not always necessarily agonistic, either). A move from the single-author to the network (isn't English already comfortable with a move away from the single author study?). What's more, these readers carry into other places, we (I mean I) write for them all the time. Every piece of writing is a blog post. Or a comment. Or a response. For the network. And, as scholars such as Jeff Rice stresses, every act of reading in the digital sphere is also writing (del.icio.us, digg, etc.) So, to use the Rice example, my response to Derrida's essay is very much connected to a post Rice put up this morning (on network "work" as [possibly not] scholarly "work"). This is the academic attention economy. We deliver our time. Tracing the etymology of "book" related words, Derrida writes:
[...]like the presence of the Greek tithenia ("to put") in bibliotheke, they all point up the act of putting, depositing, but also the act of immobilizing, of giving something over to a stabilizing immobility, and to the statute, to the statutory and even state institution, which alerts us to all the institutional, juridical, and political dimensions that we must also debate. Setting down, laying down, depositing, storing, warehousing--this is also receiving, collecting, totalizing, electing, and reading by binding. So the idea of gathering together, as much as that of the immobility of the statutory and even state deposit, seems as essential to the idea of the book as to that of the library. (7)
Wow, I love the play working through that passage--book as a statue (inorganic), which is the inorganic organicism of the Humanist human?. And why, perhaps, so many of us are ready to be posthumans? One can project where this is going--what happens when our dominant communicative medium, the everyday medium is no longer the "book"? Derrida asks:
Will we continue for long to use the word library for a place that essentially no longer collects together a store of books?
Anyone who has strolled through a library lately sees this transformation... the other day a friend of mine told this anecdote:
Teacher: so, the call number of a book will help you find the book in the library. [after a few more minutes of lecture] Student (sincere): so, let me get this straight, if I call that number, the library will send me the book?
[...]nonetheless the underlying tendency would be for such a place increasingly to be expected to become a space for work, reading and writing that was governed or dominated by texts no longer corresponding to the "book" form: electronic texts with no paper support, texts not corpus or opus--not finite and separable oeuvres; groupings no longer forming texts, even, but open textual processes offered on boundless national and international networks, for the active or interactive intervention of readers turned coauthors, and so on. (7-8)
It is not a surprise to me that this discussion is seasoned with Levinas' language--that the finitude of the "book" is (not) contrasted to the infinite of the book-to-come, the network. Derrida stresses that "the-book-to-come" will expectedly have to resist BEING the book, it will be a struggle to hold this book back as an infinite becoming, a non-teleological tension between collection and dispersion (did I say Levinas, I must have meant Heidegger, or both). This book-to-come will be haunted by Hegel, God, totality, dialectic. Desire for the "onto-encyclopedic or neo-Hegelian model of the great total book, the book of absolute knowledge linking its own infinite dispersion to itself, in a circle" (15). The danger is in thinking this circle closed, a circuit. A network is not a circuit. Derrida:
Now what is happening today, what looks like being the very form of the book's to-come, still as the book, is on the one hand, beyond the closure of the book, the disruption, the dislocation, the disjunction, the dissemination with no possible gathering, the irreversible dispersion of this total codex (not its disappearance but its marginalization or secondarization, in ways we will have to come back to); but simultaneously, on the other hand, a constant reinvestment in the book project, in the book of the world or the world book, in the absolute book (this is why I also described the end of the book as interminable or endless), the new space of writing and reading in electronic writing, traveling at top speed from one spot on the globe to another, and linking together, beyond frontiers and copyrights, not only citizens of the world on the universal network of a potential universitas, but also any reader as a writer, potential or virtual, or whatever. That revives a desire, the same desire. It re-creates a temptation that is figured by the World Wide Web as the ubiquitous Book finally reconstituted, the book of God, the great book of Nature, or the World Book finally achieved in its onto-theological dream, even though what it does is to repeat the end of that book as to-come. (15)
Phew, that's a long passage, but a good one. Like Borges' fable, we must becareful not to become emperors' seeking the map--to consider the WWW as the empire to be consolidated, synthesized, hierarchized, ontologized, mapped. The WWW is an answer to the questions posed by differance, differends, conditions most post-modern. It will not provide an answer (except, maybe, "forty-two"). While the internet can bring us together to create answers, it will also create questions, perhaps only questions? Oh the AGONy. Both visions presented above are extremes, two specters of the book-to-come; our lived experience will be mitigated through these (and many other) specters. Derrida concludes with four points--one of which interests me in connection with recent debates surrounding net neutrality:
3. The Right to Books. Between the two fantasies I have just mentioned, the turbulence and impasses have, as always, a juridical and ethical-political form. If everything symbolized the World Wide Web can have a liberating effect (in relation to controls and all forms of policing, and even the censorship exercised by the machines of power--of the nationstate, the economy, the universities, and publishing), it is all too obvious that that only advances by opening up zones without rights, "wild" areas, areas of "anything goes" (ranging from the most dangerous, politically speaking, to the most insignificant and the most inept, the worst that coudl come and fill in, paralyze, or break up space). A difficult question in a war for rights and power that was already ongoing at the time of the book's domination, but is obviously taking on new forms and new rhythms. These must be recognized, analyzed, and treated fairly as possible" (17-18).
What gives the WWW the diffusive power Derrida discusses? Movement both ways- the fact that every reader is a writer (potentially). And under the technologies of web2.0, the intellectual networks, the sharing, the push-button endorsement, the tag, the attention economy, "I think, therefore I am" to "we digg what we might never (hope to) perhaps become," this movement becomes as natural as blinking.


Poirot Takes the Case

I awoke this morning to a terrible scene:

Chaos in the living room, one sofa cushion down

Immediately I took a quick survey of the damage:

Pieces of cushion strewn across the floor

I conjured the spirit of my favorite Belgium detective... he immediately instructed me to locate the origin of the crime:

The missing cushion

Next, I investigated the body of the victim. The injuries were severe. It seems the killer, or killers, took pleasure in their work.

the poor cushion--missing its bottom third

With a sleuth's eye, I took a quick look around at the suspects:

  1. Molly, guilty lab hiding behind the sofa, unwilling to look anyone in the eye. Despite her seemingly innocent look, she makes a living chewing everything in sight... (yesh... dat's profiling dads, ish not good")
    Molly, the ring leader?
  2. Zizek, the usual suspect, brazenly returning to the scene of the crime, a piece of cushion under his paw. As a puppy, he was nicknamed "The-Destroyer-of-All-Things," had he returned to the days of his youth? (ya, I make da cushion perfect, no? Now it is more German?)
    Zizek, the usual suspect?
  3. Tree, who knew anything about this strange house guest? Had she chewed before? Had the Santos' unwittingly invited a murdered into their midst? (Don't yet have a "voice" for Tree... adding to her mystery...)
    Tree, the mysterious stranger?

My instincts told me the truth would "emerge" in time... no dog can hold it forever, and when nature's duty called, the Poirot in me would be there, checking for traces of cushion...stay tuned


CSS and Background Images

A couple of posts back I talked about the resume project my students have been working on--today we created a new style sheet for it using a background-image technique I first learned from Karl Stolley as a member of his sustainable web design group last year. The workshop went well, and now those resume's look's quite different. I've ran into a few padding issues between Firefox for PC and Safari. Don't bother looking at it IE (yet--I'm not going to cover conditional comments until a few projects from now).

Up next for my class, the Zen Garden--I'm excited for this project. I am only going to look at the projects in FF/PC, so that should allow my class to get into one design (rather than having to worry about cross-browser compatibility, I'm not tackling this until their service learning project).

I've written up the first four of the six sections of my Web Standards for Professional Writing project--its at 35 pages single spaced without most of the background images. Up nex for XHTMLt: definition lists, classes, spans, and images; for CSS parent and child selectors (to go with Zen Garden), floats, and using small background images to create texture (Karl does this on his homepage, I do it as well--this one I figured out by myself! Its nice to see that I "naturally" came to do something similar to what my original standards-mentor does... what's that thing about great minds?)