networks: April 2005 Archives

Pass it on

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Dylan, I think you underestimate the resources that I am capable of bringing to bear upon any attempt at making me feel guilty. But, like a magic trick that loses its luster if performed too often, those resources are for emergencies, and I'm willing to hold them in check in the interests of allowing the meme to spread.

But just this once, mister.

So, lest I be accused of simply taking memes at face value:

Who would be your top 5 people, living or dead or cinematic, that you'd want to see blog?

1. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) from Memento. I don't know that his blog would be all that interesting, but at least he wouldn't have to blog on his skin anymore, right? The big question, then, would be whether you'd need to read a second, black-and-white blog in forward chronological order, just to understand his...

2. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey) from The Usual Suspects. But only if he promised to blog from a laptop, and never to blog from the same place twice. Oh, and of course, it would have to be pseudonymous.

3. John Doe (Kevin Spacey) from Se7en. A Spacey double shot? Has there ever been a more accurate portrayal of just how messed up you have to be to write that much every freakin day? And to think that these two performances came in the same year. There's your orality and literacy.

4. The Landlady (Qui Yuen) from Kung Fu Hustle. In blogspace, no one can hear your Lion's Roar.

5. Lola (Franka Potente) from Run Lola Run. I can't think of a better example of someone who could have used a cameraphone, a Flickr account, a GPS tracker, and Googlemaps to better advantage.

So there's your five. And I didn't even have to resort to Star Wars jokes about escape podcasting.

Must. Not. Post.

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I've been fighting the urge to elaborate on my rant for the past couple of days, and I think I've nearly got it beat. In what I'm hoping will be the final nail in the coffin, I wanted to link to a post over at Will's that isn't directly related, but ends up connecting in my head.

Will takes the kernel of James Surowiecki's talk at ETech:

"Paradoxically, the best way for a group to be smart is for each person in it to think and act as independently as possible."

and connects it to the ways that we teach collaboration to our students, namely, the way that we encourage them to seek consensus (and there's a whole horde of evidence, both theoretical and empirical, to suggest that this is the case).

One of the places this resonates for me is at the level of discipline. One of the notions with which I've increasingly lost patience over the years is what I'd call the leap to community, the fact that we don't really have a vocabulary to describe what happens when we go beyond a random network (a crowd, mob, etc.) but before we get to a fairly ordered network of the sort I envision when I hear the word "community."

You could say that I'm a member of the composition & rhetoric community, or the computers & writing community, but that suggests a unity of thought and/or purpose that I'm not sure I'm completely on board with. My ties to the people similarly identified are certainly stronger than the ones that connect me to, say, Anthropology departments, but they're not nearly as strong to the ones that connect me to my colleagues (both faculty and grad students) at Syracuse, or the ones that connect me to my cohort from grad school.

There are literally thousands of people in the comprhet "community" whom I will never meet, which seems to me to stretch casuistically the word itself almost beyond recognition. And certainly, I feel that community far less than I do the one that Will talks about. He and I have never met, and yet, in the past couple of days, each of us has cited and referred to the other's ideas and writings, lending the tie between us much more reality and immediacy than those connecting me to thousands of people who may never even know my name.

And maybe it's because I just came off a good, long conversation with Lori, partly about the topic of virtual collaboration, that I'm thinking that there's something to collaboration that involves working alongside or in parallel that's just as collaborative (and easily as valuable) as the consensus model. Maybe I'm just thinking that community can be a result of collaboration more broadly defined, whereas we tend to think of community as a prerequisite.

There are other dots to connect here, but that is all from me for the moment.

Clancy, with a quick question regarding celebrity weblogs, reminds just about every one of us who blogs in academia exactly where we land on the food chain:

Total number of comments on the March 21st entry at Zach Braff's weblog: 1296
Total number of entries and comments generated in over a year and a half at my blog: 1292, counting this one

I don't mean to make it sound like Clancy's question was purposefully humbling. I was just struck by the "closeness" of the numbers.

And no, I'm not pinging Braff's site to see if I can inch ahead of his entry. I'm just sayin...

That's all.



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This page is a archive of entries in the networks category from April 2005.

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