Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Last Word on the 4 C's; First Words About Next Year

I'm pretty busy preparing for next week's conference workshop on blogging and don't know that I will have the time to do any posting here for awhile, unless it's to ask for help with the online handout. I did want to say a few things about the conference before I get back to the rush of being at school next week.

Jocalo, Mike, and Clancy have all done thoughtful jobs of transcribing notes, and if you haven't been to their sites, you really should go and read them. They link to others, and I think you can get a pretty good idea of what happened.

So let me segue (although I'd rather Segway)
into some thoughts about next year.

Thought #1: Technology. We have to have better systems for getting computers to work during presentations, etc. Yes, I'm speaking from experience, and though my talk was just that, a talk, read from notes that were the nth draft of ideas I'd been working on, both John and Styles had presentations that relied on using technology to show what they were talking about. Although we were able to find some help, the person didn't come in until the middle of Styles's presentation, and would have interrupted things and taken up more time before getting them fixed.
As it was, John became the techie, and Styles had to lean over and point out which file to put on the screen. He shouldn't have had to, though. The technical part of John's presentation was scrapped, and we missed his realtime blogging demonstration. That both men are experienced teachers who know how to gracefully shift course when things aren't working speaks to their professionalism. And yes, things happen. But my point is that at this point in time, we shouldn't have to treat technology like a "special" topic and arrange ahead of time for a room that would accomodate our laptops, powerpoints, blogs, etc. We should just assume that technology will be part of the process unless told otherwise.

Maybe I should be preaching to hotels and convention centers about this.

Related to this is Mike's comment about technology at the 4C's:

And now, as Collin points out, it’s time to start thinking about next year. I’ll share Collin’s sentiment that the “trend […] towards increasingly arbitrary and unclear categories” on the CCCC Call for Proposals is problematic, and I’ll add a question: do the proposal form’s “area clusters” perhaps actually hinder our disciplinary conversations? I noticed that a lot of bloggers went to a lot of the technology-focused panels, which of course is to be expected (it’s become axiomatic that the thing bloggers most like to blog about is blogging) — but I didn’t see any panels that had only one or two tech presenters; the tech panels were all tech, all the time (somebody, please, correct me if I’m wrong), which I think makes for a sort of echo chamber effect. It can also lead to attitudes like the one I (perhaps mistakenly) perceived in Anne Jones’s troubling “dark ages” comment; attitudes that pedagogies associated with digital technologies are somehow beyond rather than a part of composition’s body of knowledge. I wonder what might happen when composition reaches the disciplinary point that the New York Times reached on March 24, when it eliminated the Circuits section because of the way technology concerns had begun “migrating into the mainstream.”

Thought #2:Some Suggestions.

So, next year, in Chicago, why don't we mix things up a bit? Why don't we poll members to see what kinds of clusters/topics/panels/performances we'd like to attend?

Why don't we make certain that technology isn't always its own category, but is blended in with other presentations?

Why don't we create a "Wild Card" category that mixes up three presenters and gives them a year to figure out how their ideas do or don't intersect and then come to the conference with a presentation that continues the conversatiion?

Why don't we tape or podcast or broadcast some or all of the presentations so that members can go to the 4 C's website and play them?

Why don't we?


At 10:57 PM, Blogger Clancy said...

Good ideas! I think they should at least offer presenters the option to have their presentations podcasted.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than "podcasted," I kinda prefer the more conventional and straightforward term "recorded," since it doesn't implicitly brand technology use in the service of hip slang. But consider the logistical and organizational difficulties that already face CCCC organizers, as well as the bandwidth barriers (which you've acknowledged, Clancy) that face those who might record presentations and those who might listen to them. I don't follow audioblogs because I don't have the patience to download and listen to them, and I've got a fast connection. Many others don't. As an alternative, I might suggest something like what we've already begun to do, a peer-to-peer network of text (which has wonderfully small bandwidth requirements) notes on the presentations we see. Across the Disciplines at the WAC Clearinghouse attempts to centralize and editorialize this function, an impulse that I think runs contrary to a goal many of us with interests in technology, intellectual property, and composition share: the broad dissemination of our disciplinary knowledge. I'd rather see us looking to the distributed possibilities offered by the conjunction of folksonomies and trackbacks for performing such indexing functions.


At 11:29 PM, Blogger Rosa G. said...

Okay, I'll cave to the logistical problems, but Mike, explain what

"the distributed possibilities offered by the conjunction of folksonomies and trackbacks for performing such indexing functions."

"Folksonomies" sounds wholesome and rustic. Like the scales of a folk song. I'll bet it means something else.

Maria Von Trapp

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wikipedia describes folksonomies as the "practice of collaborative categorization using freely chosen keywords." It relies on lots of feedback, but that requirement might be a terrific way to use our reviews to overcome the perceived difficulties with the proposal-categorization process. See Metafilter for one example of how this might work -- but of course, that method might simply take us straight back to Collin's Evidentiary Inclinations.


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