about

I’m a freelance writer, PhD student and instructor at Virginia Tech. I also make music and build websites. You’re on one of them right now. This site is a placeholder for stuff I think is cool, bits of work in progress and (I guess) a blog.

 

Here’s a page where I’ve indexed a lot of recent writings.
Other digital creative nonsense lives at www.realyou.me
Music: http://stamm.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @turing_tests
I dig it when people write things here
And you can contact me via email: stamm[at]vt.edu.

-emma stamm

writing warnings

[1] Fact: writing is made of words, not ideas.
[2] “Nothing is like an idea so much as an idea” — Bishop Berkeley
[3] Fact: writing and ideas and content all refer to ontologically separate entities.
[4] “I myself prefer an Argentine fantasy. God did not create a Book of Nature of the old sorts Europeans imagined. He wrote a Borgesian library, each book of which is as brief as possible, yet each book of which is inconsistent with every other.For each book, there is some humanly accessible bit of Nature [“the natural”] such that that book, and no other, makes possible the comprehension, prediction and influencing of what’s going on” — Ian Hacking on Borges and Berkeley

“Writing is made of words…” means that to write is to write. Thinking about writing != doing it. It’s something to put on a post-it note and keep over your computer, it’s a reminder that thinking about working != working.

It also means that writing done right self-contextualizes and self-legitimates.

Good writing cuts through the hell of sameness that is the digital space (and capitalism! Capital writ large). It doesn’t produce the new but reveals the unseen. Now that the possibility of speaking an unreified language is a naïve fantasy, writers have to be careful about what they unconceal. Some spells are better left in the occult.

the plastic flowers of perception

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche called psychedelics “plastic flowers for the mind,” meaning that they’re false prophets, insufficient for self-realization. Meanwhile, Anaïs Nin (a psychonaut if there ever was one) described her LSD experience with characteristic lyricism but came to a similar conclusion — its meaning was diminished by its artifice. Of course acid trips are “unnatural.” They do not emerge spontaneously from meditation or other contemplative practices, and LSD in particular is more heavily refined than a lot other drugs (like mushrooms and marijuana). But these instruments of consciousness-alteration should be treated outside the division of real/fake and given the special considerations we afford technology — which we normally understand as “unnatural,” but whose impacts are undeniably real. Drugs are media, screens, in a sense, like eyeglasses. They enable us to apprehend sensoria in entirely new ways and, like many technologies, blur the distinction between mind | body | everything beyond the limits of our skin.

A chapter in Richard Doyle’s book Darwin’s Pharmacy, a pretty far-out theorization of the noösphere and how hallucinogenic plants assisted human evolution, is called “The Flowers of Perception.” Flowers emerge from the earth but so does plastic; both are cultivated by the human hand, and nobody yet has devised a solid argument for a stable and exact degree of intervention that divides natural from unnatural. Anaïs Nin and Trungpa Rinpoche both observed the transient nature of the drug experience as an indication its insubstantiality. But acid trips, Buddhist meditation (Trungpa’s formula) and the artistic consciousness (Nin’s concern) all denote different experiences. If the idea is to maintain a certain respect for all of this — and in particular for the overarching possibility of a metaphysical ground of creation, which Trungpa and Nin both wrote toward — even when forces of society undermine it — we probably need all tools at our disposal. Some will be disposed of more quickly than others (and they should; when asked about psychedelics, Alan Watts said that “once you get the message you should hang up the phone.” People who do a lot of acid are weird…). I’m not sure that any one is more or less worthwhile than any other.

GEDI post IV: My Voice? My VOICE?

[course assignment]

Before I started teaching, a friend shared with me learned wisdom from his time as a student-slash-instructor, that peculiar situation in which many of the GEDI order now find themselves. “You learn a lot about yourself by teaching,” he said. This didn’t make me excited. I already know a lot about myself — I kind of wish I knew less, actually. And I definitely don’t want undergraduates to serve as a mirror to any self-knowledge of which I myself am unaware, even if their youth and scholarly acumen could produce some creative insights. Like Sarah Deel, I’ve had age and gender-based concerns about emphasizing too much of my “real” self in the classroom. Young female instructors already have to work harder than their male counterparts to gain respect, and it seemed to me like “learning about myself” would only come through an over-emphasis on me in the classroom.

At the end of my first semester of teaching, I was emotionally and intellectually depleted. Instructors field everything from frequent, unnecessary questions about assignments (how many times can you say: i t ‘ s  o n   t h e   s y l l a b u s) to potentially grave psychological issues among their students. This is all, of course, aside from the work of conveying the content of your course. It seemed to me then that people who take up teaching for the “soft” payoffs — the gratification of doing such meaningful work; a sense of connection to the rising generation — are in it for the wrong reasons. Teaching, I thought, should be about a love of the subject. Passion for knowledge, not people, is what makes a good teacher. Maybe it’s even okay to see it as “just” financial security while pursuing your own research.

Over time,  my perspectives on this have become more nuanced. College kids have a sixth sense for BS — so the appearance of naturalness in the classroom is  important, except you can’t be too natural if you yourself are obviously still in your twenties and of the gender that always has to fight to be taken seriously in intellectual professions. Yes, authenticity as a measure of success somehow seems unfair when “realness” can discredit you. What a mess!

For these reasons, Dr. Fowler’s paper on authentic teaching self is a bit of a godsend. I’ve sometimes found myself walking into the classroom while the mental tape in my head continually reminds myself that what’s about to happen is a performance. Dr. Fowler’s focus on the similarities between teaching and acting — and especially on the physical component of the teaching-performance — really compounds this. Good acting always includes some reality: actors are instructed to “think the thought,” to try to genuinely feel the emotion of a scene and get caught up in the story. This is why getting in and out of character is a practice, just like memorizing lines and stage directions. Likewise, I think there are shades and degrees of authenticity that you can exploit to bolster your teaching performance. I do care about my students, and I really love what I teach. Now I think of this positive regard as its own self-replenishing source of energy that can be channeled toward every element of teaching (including administration and grading).

Authenticity (or at the very least, its appearance) seems key to establishing yourself as a Yearner, too. Seymour Papert didn’t really investigate experience and demographic-based obstacles to the kind of paradigm shift he’s interested in — perhaps he does that later in the book. So I think Dr. Fowler’s tools are a little bit more useful to me than Papert’s theory, although I certainly read the former as a vehicle for the latter. In truth, I’m still not totally at ease as an instructor. My teaching “voice” is still relatively untrained. Only with more time will I be able to gracefully navigate the space between absolute transparency and an overly stiff professional mask, both of which are hardly ideal as teaching personas. Perhaps the self that I’ll learn “a lot” about will be composed of those parts I feel comfortable showing in front of students. Those elements of ourselves that we draw from when we teach have got to be some of the most timeless, the most meaningful.

***

For those not in GEDI, the Virginia Tech graduate pedagogy course, here are the writings I’m responding to in this post:

http://cte.virginia.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Deel.pdf

http://amynelson.net/grad5114F15/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Authentic-Teaching-Self-and-Communication-Skills.pdf (I really like this one)

https://ia801002.us.archive.org/28/items/pdfy-WeLwkqLL6w830OqF/Papert%20Seymour-The%20Children’s%20Machine.pdf

 

the darkness of narrative

On the “theory/data” problem, the notion that more data diminishes the need for theorization. Let’s assume this is true for a second: now, instead of developing hypotheses and testing them à la the scientific method, we simply subject our curiosities to computational operations. Feeding more data into better algorithms equals better living (through science!). This vision sees all phenomena as capable of being expressed in continuous quantitative variables, that is, infinitely spliceable into smaller and smaller pieces. Here, all abstraction becomes a procedure of mystification.

But abstraction is how we make sense of the world. We don’t experience life as a continuous chain of sense impressions: we group and classify our experiences, especially using language categories. The man who fails to abstract is Funes in “Funes The Memorious,” the short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Funes, he of perfect memory, stores so much sensory input that he loses the ability to discern or classify any of it, and falls into a state of utter psychological diffusion — breakdown.

It’s also the situation of perfect memory in the Black Mirror episode The Entire History of You. (I know, I know it’s a cliché to reference Black Mirror, but it makes this point so well).

Regardless of what you think about the role theorization should play in the hard sciences, there’s a deep problem at the core of the “theory/data” problem that regards sense and meaning-making in everyday life.

I’ve also thought a lot about magic, hypnosis, and the use of language in both of these practices. It seems to me that language which acts as a bewitching technology between apparently distinctive phenomena; it makes This like That. Lead into gold. Language’s power, as the communicative substrate of experience, is that it produce sameness. Language-based hypnotherapy (probably) works because it serves the connective function that produces narrative (and thus meaning) from experiences that seem seneless. A hypnosis practitioner I knew once told me that a quick way to put someone in a trance was to offer suggestions that joined together different senses. Her skin was smooth and sweetly: “smooth” references touch; “sweet,” taste. The water is cool and bright. The music is dark and fast and loud. Even if this is bogus, there’s something lyrical about these sentences. The synaesthesia is appealing.

Meanwhile, Byung Chul Han mourns the loss of narrativization in the info/data saturated society:

Plato’s cave is a narrative world. No causal link joins the things that are there. A kind of dramaturgy or scenography connects the thing [or signs] with each other by narrative means. The light of truth denarrativizes the world. The sun annihilates mere appearance. The play of mimesis and metamorphosis yields to the working at truth [Arbeit an Wahrheit]. Plato condemns any hint of change in favor of rigid identity. His critique of mimesis specifically concerns appearances and play. Plato forbids any scenic representation, and he denies the poet entrance into his city of truth:

“If a man, it seems, who was capable by his cunning of assuming every kind of shape and imitating all things, should arrive in our city, looking to exhibit his work, we should worship him as a holy and wondrous being, but would tell him that we have no man of such a kind in our city, nor is it lawful for any such one to be there. And, having anointed him with myrrh and crowned him with garlands, we would send him away to another city, after pouring myrrh down over his head ad crowning him with fillets of wool.”

Likewise, the society of transparency is a society without poets, without seduction or metamorphosis. After all, it is the poet who produces scenic illusions, forms of appearance, and ritual and ceremonial signs; he sets artifacts and antifacts against hyperreal, naked evidence.

The metaphor of light, which dominates philosophical and theological discourse from antiquity over the Middle Ages up to the Enlightenment, offers strong referentiality. Light springs from a well or a source. It provides the medium for obligating, prohibiting, and promising instances such as God and Reason. Consequently, it gives rise to negativity, which has a polarizing effect and produces oppositions. Light and darkness are coeval. Light and shadow belong together. The Good has Evil as its corollary. The light of reason and the darkness of the irrational (or the merely sensory) bring each other forth.

In contrast to Plato’s world of truth, today’s society of transparency lacks divine light inhabited by metaphysical tension. Transparency has no transcendence. The society of transparency is see-through without light. It is not illuminated by light that streams from a transcendent source. Transparency does not come about through an illuminating source of light. The medium of transparency is not light, but rather lightless radiation; instead of illuminating, it suffuses everything and makes it see-through. Moreover, its effect is homogenizing and leveling, whereas metaphysical light generates hierarchies and distinctions; thereby, it creates order and points of orientation.

And Han also writes, in the same book: “time becomes transparent when it glides into a sequence of readily available present moments.” This is the perpetual now-time of the digital, broadly expounded on by Douglas Rushkoff in Present Shock, theorized by less popular media and cultural philosophers — folks whose books we have to read in my degree program. (For what it’s worth, this is not the same Now-Time as that prescribed by Eastern philosophy).

Narrative relies on occlusion, on what isn’t indexed in the Great Archive. Narrative can’t account for all of reality. There it becomes senseless. Epistemic inundation is an affront to narrative coherence, to meaning. Moon-worshippers need the dark side.

And maybe less explanation overall. Like how Susan Sontag wrote against interpretation. The husband of the hypnotherapist who advised me on sensual language and trance said this:

“For those whose vision is ineluctably drawn to the mystery dimensions, life requires not explanation, but attention.” …if I ever have anything to add to this, I’ll update the archive.

GEDI Post III: The Buddhist And The Hot Dog Vendor

[course assignment]

One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands has this lyric as a refrain:

“Change is the thing that is what we do, change is the change that’s changing you…”

It’s surreal, not really logical, but that’s why I like it — it emphasizes the disorienting quality of change. Theorizing the causes and nature of change has been a big project for contemporary philosophers, and there’s no reason why educators shouldn’t incorporate some deep reflection on change as part of their teaching. I approached the Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown reading from this perspective.

Okay, some of their musings on contemporary change struck me as glib, and my first reaction was to fall back on the same basic critique I’ve had with many of our readings: in their embrace of the new, they fail to acknowledge the unique character of older teaching methods that can’t simply be updated and made more accessible through the, uhhhh, magic of technology. (Although I hated it at the time, I’m actually glad my sophomore year Medieval Literature professor made me memorize the opening to Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English). But the project of rendering change visible can not only equip students to deal with the world beyond the classroom (which is, for better or worse, in a state of constantly-accelerating flux), it can offer a good philosophical message about the status of knowledge: facts are constructed. That doesn’t mean they can’t be true, but they are the result of methods and inquiry which are themselves a product of human innovation. Bodies of knowledge change, presumptions are overhauled — and if you’ve read Thomas Kuhn, you know that sometimes entire scientific paradigms shift so dramatically that we can speak of qualitative breaks in our shared understanding of the world.

Focusing learning programs on this notion of change and inherent instability could (and maybe they should) represent a break in pedagogy where students come to a deep awareness of their own agency in producing knowledge. Wikipedia is a great example of transparent knowledge production, and using Wikipedia edit records as a way to emphasize the constantly-changing, actively-generated nature of knowledge is an interesting idea. This awareness shouldn’t be limited to philosophy students with a focus on epistemology, the study of knowledge itself. The tenuous status of knowledge and informational authority is too present in the real world right now, and I suspect that this ambiguity is only on the rise. (Unfortunately, I’m thinking of fake news).

Meanwhile, I have no problems at all with Ellen J. Langer’s article — except that, maybe, its emphasis on presence and focus seems to challenge a lot of the technology-happy work we’ve done so far! I insist that my students put away their internet-connected devices at the beginning of class, not because I inherently dislike smartphones and laptops (that’s another issue), but because I want to create the conditions for mindfulness. Her observations on mindfulness and adaptability to change really hit home for me. Doing coursework in an interdisciplinary PhD program means constantly adapting not only to new content, but new ways of thinking about things. I didn’t major in any of the departments that I take ASPECT courses in, so I often find myself sitting in history, political science or cultural studies classes, attempting to grasp the methodological / epistemological assumptions of historians, political scientists, and so on. (Stuff that some people picked up as undergrads and master’s students, to be sure). The only way I’ve accomplished this while maintaining a sense of clarity and consistency is by paying very close attention to context. I adopt the idea that I’m coming into new disciplines not just to learn the explicit content, but to grok the assumptions that professors and long-term students of a discipline take for granted. This has been completely necessary whenever I’ve encountered quantitative methods… I’ve learned that those who see themselves as math and numbers people somehow appear to intuitively grasp contextual frameworks in ways that I don’t. That’s a bit unfair, but math becomes much easier for me when I try to explain those frameworks to myself before learning a new equation or concept. (It means I spend less time thinking about “why” we use a certain equation, who came up with these methods anyway, and how, and so on…). Hopefully that makes sense. The project of becoming aware of context is so, so important when trying to make sense of content in environments subject to rapid change. Mindfulness is a key component of this.

By the way, all this thinking about change and mindfulness reminds me of a dumb joke about a Buddhist monk and a hot dog vendor. It starts with a cheesy one-liner and then gets even worse:

A Buddhist goes up to a hot dog vendor and says “make me one with everything.” 

When he asks for change, the vendor replies: “change comes from within.”

And I’ll end this post here!

***

For anyone reading this not in GEDI class, here is the first article I’m responding to: http://www.newcultureoflearning.com/newcultureoflearning.pdf , pp. 39-49. The second is only available through the Virginia Tech network.

 

opaque, fragile and performative selfhoods

Recently I’ve discovered some overlaps between various works of contemporary psychedelic scholarship. Over the summer I started reading Nicolas Langlitz’s book Neuropsychedelia and came across the work of Chris Letheby not long after (when he himself reached out to me after an introduction I made on a grad student listserv… +1 for email networking).

Letheby co-authored a philosophical paper where he argues that selfhood is a fiction vis-à-vis the well-documented psychedelic phenomenon of ego dissolution:

As Metzinger points out, our ‘phenomenal avatar’ (conscious selfmodel)
is ‘transparent’: one does not feel like an avatar encoded in a ‘biological data format’, one feels like a unitary, persisting substance, or entity. The prevalence of this Cartesian intuition in philosophical discussions of selfhood supports this psychosemantic claim. Some may find this claim introspectively dubitable. But it is precisely the ubiquity of this sense of ‘I’ that makes it difficult to isolate phenomenologically—and this is the reason why phenomena
such as ego dissolution are theoretically valuable.

As Savage says in his discussion of LSD phenomenology, ‘By and large the individual is not aware of the ego boundaries of his mind and body and becomes aware of them only when a change has occurred in them’. Psychedelics, by deconstructing the avatar, render it opaque and acquaint subjects directly with its representational nature (cf. Letheby 2015, 2016). Alterations in feelings of ‘mineness’ or ownership, the sense of bodily boundaries, and so forth put pressure on the predictive hypothesis of a unitary entity underlying and persisting throughout experiences. The subsequent diminution in the sense of solid selfhood shows subjects that this sense is ultimately just one more conscious experience, rather than a transcendental precondition of all such experiences. The transformative existential shock which often attends this discovery testifies to the fact that a mere avatar is not what we, in the ordinary and sober course of things, deeply feel and take ourselves to be.

Chris Letheby and Philip Gerrans, “Self Unbound: Ego Dissolution In Psychedelic Experience.” (I removed some citations for readability; the paper is freely available online here: https://academic.oup.com/nc/article/3/1/nix016/3916730/Self-unbound-ego-dissolution-in-psychedelic)

Meanwhile, in Neuropsychedelia — which is an ethnography of psychedelic research since the 1990’s — Langlitz recounts the story of a man who, having just undergone an experimental ketamine treatment, was spooked by the theatrical tone he detected in the voice of a clinician:

Samotar’s voice, he said, had reminded him of the way the East German playwright and stage director Heiner Müller used to read texts, especially his own or those of Bertolt Brecht. Later on, Wetzel [the trial subject] provided a more detailed explanation:

…”if you described a speech as performative in Austin’s sense, then it would be a speech emphasizing its textuality. With every word, even with every syllable, it stressed the elaborateness, the official character marking the sentences from the questionnaire. Far off from any spontaneous communication. A certain gesture of abstraction, a depersonalized speech, which you could often hear in Müller’s productions in direct continuation of Brecht’s aesthetics and theory of theater. There, the text was supposed to become audible as a completely independent parameter, cut off from techniques of empathy and the actor’s desire for identification. For this purpose, it had to be depsychologized, formalized, and spoken on the basis of a structure contrary to the psychological (bourgeois) semantics. In the experiment, the researcher sounded similar to that, making an exaggerated effort to provide expressions for my state of mind (‘I had a religious feeling’) far beyond any empathy.”

By looking at the performative dimension of the experiment, Wetzel read one of the leitmotifs of modernist art, the break with representation, into the scientific setting. It was one of Heiner Müller’s credos that on stage the text had to be worked with, not as a mere representation of reality, but as a reality of its own. Any understanding had to be preceded by a sensual perception of the text’s materiality. In the attempt to objectify his subjective experience with the help of an itemized self-rating scale, Wetzel found a distant echo of the Brechtian alienation effects in twentieth-century theater that prevented the audience from losing itself in the character created by the actor. By calling attention to the theatrical practice of representation, Brecht had wanted to break its illusionism.

Neuropsychedelia, pp. 136-137 (boldface added for emphasis)

These writings are both concerned with selfhood as a phenomenological entity with no intrinsic reality. That is to say, our feeling of being the same person over time is a lived momentary experience, without the dignity (the ontological authority) we give to the “real.” There is no metaphysics of selfhood, no God-given reality of individual existence.  Letheby and Gerrans use their analyses to argue that selfhood is a fiction. Bertolt Brecht — and the person who takes psychedelic drugs — may be inclined to agree.

If selfhood is a fiction, certainly it’s a useful fiction, a state of “epistemic innocence” (to borrow a concept developed by philosopher Lisa Bortolotti, used by Letheby in another paper) that can lead to positive outcomes. We’re supposed to believe that we really do, in fact, exist. If you don’t, you’re either Buddhist or insane.

Bertolt Brecht wanted to route attention to the fiction of representation, to cut short the audience identification with theatrical pathos and narrative. Meanwhile a psychedelic experience can reveal the fictive quality of selfhood, illuminating the fact that our sense of being comes from a theater of consciousness: an unreal stage that facilitates play, imagination and creativity as part of the way we experience ourselves.

And, indeed, exploring psychedelics or one’s creativity via theater can help individuals surprise themselves with insight into their own imaginative depth — the possibility that the source of this imagination is something other than themselves (if the self is an illusion, see…).

And, you know, it’s possible that social norms built on the supposedly real and fixed nature of the self rely on denying these Brechtian / psychedelic inuitions. But I don’t want to read politics into this right now.

GEDI Post I: Skepticism

[course assignment]

I don’t want to begin my GEDI blogging journey on a negative note, but I couldn’t help but be critical of this week’s readings. In general, they smacked of techno-utopianism — hype that disguises as much truth about the networked world as it reveals. Here I have to disclose some bias — my PhD research is on the philosophical implications of technology. In particular, I spend a lot of time thinking about why end-users have so uncritically embraced digital networks and social norms that multiply and are amplified in a networked context. As an instructor, my research interests are echoed in the way I treat the use of tech in my classroom. As a student of pedagogy, it’s only honest to connect my views on these topics to my (admittedly very-much-in-development) teaching practice.

Despite my overarching critique, however, there’s interesting stuff to be explored here. All of this week’s thinkers have a sincere interest in leveraging innovation toward the best end possible. That’s great. Unfortunately, these pieces all demonstrated a very specific ideology: the ethos of Web 2.0. They would have been more interesting to me if they revealed their bias. Or at least the social trajectory by which this bias has come to support an ever-more popular perspective on networked learning. Here are a few examples:

In Gardner Campbell’s article, he emphasizes the need for students to understand the Internet from a more practical perspective. I completely agree with this: at this point in history, many of us live cyborg livss — part machine, part human — and it helps us to know a thing or two about how the web actually works. But “how the web actually works” includes more than just technical expertise on URLs, packet routing, HTTP and data infrastructures. There is an economic ideology at the core of Web 2.0. The constant clicking and “sharing” that facilitates the business model of the Internet, which makes a profit from all of this online activity in ways that are generally unknown to users. The networked self, including the networked student, generates a profit for the platforms they use. Although Seth Godin states that “blogging is free,” it is only free in the sense that we do not have to pay directly for certain blogging services. In these cases, user data is extracted that is highly valuable to all sorts of entities, include surveillants and social media sites fine-tuning algorithms to serve more profitable ads to their users. The networked student becomes a source of income. No explanation of the Internet should fail to include observations like these, which are not political interpretations — they’re just facts.

But my problems with this ideology aren’t entirely related to economic exploitation. They also have to do with the spirit of what it means to learn and produce intellectual and creative work.

Campbell tells us:

By forcing students to write ‘publicly’, their writing rapidly improves. 

This can be true in many cases. But it also reinforces the idea that the only meaningful behavior is that which we can display and promote. In research she did with teenage students, social critic Sarah Leonard indicated that a staggering amount of millennial writers aspire to become marketers. Marketing is a safe job option for budding writers, at least in comparison to journalism, editorial work or (God help us) fiction writing. Public writing can be extraordinarily helpful insofar as it forces writers to emphasize clarity and conceptual legibility. But we also need to affirm the value of creative work  for its own sake, not for its profit margin or the number of hits it garners (two metrics now deeply intertwined).

This issue is separate from the related concern addressed by Tim Hitchcock. In his piece, Hitchcock says  “a lot of early career scholars, in particular, worry that exposing their research too early, in too public a manner, will either open them to ridicule, or allow someone else to ‘steal’ their ideas.” Those are fair concerns and should be left to the consideration of each individual scholar, particularly based on their field (although Hitchcock perfunctorily dismisses them with a vague reference to his own life). He does not consider the deeper process by which scholars come to feel ready and comfortable to share their work. Incessant self-publication and self-publicization may lead to more Twitter followers and a “constant conversation,” but often one needs to work in isolation to hit on a truly singular finding. The short-term reward of “growing your network” and being marginally recognized with Internet fame is a foil to what might be achieved when time spent on social media is rerouted solely to one’s own paper.

I mention this, of course, in the context of graduate work. But I think we also need to share this viewpoint with undergraduates, because it’s becoming increasingly understood to be old-hat. To demonstrate that it’s possible to be both tech-savvy and critical of the Internet is sometimes interesting to students, I guess because they don’t get that perspective very often. In the Digital Culture unit of the course I teach, I try to offer this to students.

Meanwhile, the “Working Openly On The Web Manifesto” has its roots in free and open software culture, which (again) is not inherently bad, but may have problematic implications for scholarship. The notion that work is primarily meaningful for its sharing value seems like a quick route to short-circuiting educational processes that take gestation, painstaking attention to detail, and long stretches of time to come to fruition. Academic work is not the same as crowdsourced coding projects. That is, until over-embrace of the Internet forces us to lose sight of the reasons why scholarly practice is distinguished from other types of work. (Also known as: why, for the most part, grad students don’t publish drafts of their dissertation until it’s been through extensive review).

Okay, I think that’s all I have. Despite my polemic, my mind is still open, and I wouldn’t mind being challenged on this. (Hey, it’s good for my research).

***

For those who aren’t part of GEDI class, here are the articles I’m responding to:

Gardner Campbell, “Networked Learning as Experiential Learning” (2016)

Doug Belshaw “Working Openly On the Web” (2014)

Tim Hitchcock “Twitter and Blogs are Not Just Add-ons To Academic Research” (2014)

Seth Godin and Tom Peters on Blogging (2009)

GEDI posts

I’m taking a course in pedagogy and part of our assignments include weekly blog posts. For these we’re required to either set up a blog or use one we already have, and since o-culus is already good to go for for syndication, I’m just going to use this. These posts will be tagged “GEDI” (the tag appears at the bottom).