Hamlet’s Blackberry

Hamlet's Blackberry

At first, I thought this book would be pretty lame, because I’ve had enough of people telling others how to live their lives (both digital and otherwise). I was expecting hasty generalizations and lofty moral values, but William Powers offers some cogent advice for living in a 24/7 connected world. Coming on the heels of investigating all the types of surveillance with my GSW students, Powers was an appropriate read. Furthermore, his writing style is accessible and down-to-earth, so I don’t get the feeling he’s preaching a “holier than thou” sermon. Part of his ethos is identifying with such a connected culture–we are all victims! As High School Musical would say: “We’re all in this together!” Another ethos-building moment comes when Powers confronts the counterargument before going in-depth with his own argument. That’s a bold strategy, and one I think really pays off when dealing with highly defensive and exigent topics (like personal use of technology).

I’d like to counter by pointing out an assumption on which Powers’ argument rests. He concedes that digital technology and multitasking can indeed foster creativity in individuals, and that “there is nothing more valuable than an employee with a fertile, creative mind” (29). However, Powers wonders whether or not multitasking really elicits such creativity while users are “jumping among many other tasks at the same time, racing from this to that and back to this again” (29). Maybe we should hash out some different types of multitasking, or at least consider that everyone multitasks in a different way. For example, I like to work on one task for a short period of time, giving it 100% of my focus. Then I move to the next task, and so on. This is opposed to someone who flutters from task to task in a matter of seconds or minutes, never giving more than, say, 10% to any one task. My type of multitasking would surely promote better results than the other type, yet Powers lumps them all in together.

One facet of Powers’ argument that I enjoyed was his breakdown of why we feel we need the newest, fastest version of technologies. Sometimes, we spend exorbitant money to have the newest technology–that hasn’t even changed that much from the previous version. It’s partly the fault of advertising, and partly the fault of our psyche. I’d venture to say that the majority of us believe that we can ONLY work with the best and the fastest, lest we miss out on any opportunity to maximize time and effort, because we are just so BUSY (Powers also mentions that being “busy” is a state of mind created to justify multitasking and running around like a crazy person, which snowballs over time). This is simply not true. I wouldn’t advocate NOT to update, but I (like Powers) don’t believe it’s absolutely essential every few months.

P.S. how cool is it that the copy of Hamlet’s Blackberry I ordered from Amazon happened to be signed by William Powers himself? SO COOL!

Remix and Multimodal Composition- Jason Palmeri


The first time I ever thought about the notion of remix and multimodal composition was during my Master’s studies, when I read Kathleen Blake Yancey’s 2009 article: “Re-designing Graduate Education in Composition and Rhetoric: The Use of Remix as Concept, Material, and Method.” Yancey inspired me to begin thinking beyond the traditional read-discuss-write format of most graduate courses—at least in my then-current program. I wish I had read Jason Palmeri’s book, Remixing Composition: A History of Multimodal Writing Pedagogy, sooner, because his explanation of composition’s multimodal history is eye opening. Who would have thought—composition has always been multimodal!

One of the most important concepts to take away is that multimodality does not limit itself to computers or digital composing; Palmeri examines means of composing with images, sounds, and words. Our students already process information multimodally (yes, I just made up that word), and they would benefit from multimodal assignments and assessments. While Cindy Selfe is a pioneer of multimodal assignments, Palmeri brings multimodal history into view, and offers some low-tech alternatives in the process.

My favorite part of Palmeri’s book is his ability to confront the skeptics of new technology. Fearing the bandwagon of new media, many teachers are hesitant to adopt new technology into the classroom. Of course it is their choice, but Palmeri explains how all technology once created those same unsure feelings, and examines how teachers overcame those feelings in the past. With one eye on the future, Palmeri’s book is reassuring.

I was able to use Palmeri’s assertions as support for my own research into social networking and the classroom, but I see value in his historiography and classroom activities as well.  Honestly, I was shocked to hear that some colleagues found his book repetitive, but maybe I’m bias since Palmeri’s book is a favorite of mine 😉

… Have I mentioned how excited I am to meet Palmeri at BGSU in October??

Welcome to my blog!

This post is a test post as well as a welcome post. ENG 7280 is a graduate course in Bowling Green State University’s Rhetoric & Writing program. This space is for my reactions, comments, critiques, and connections to our weekly readings. Please feel free to contribute your own!