Intellectual Property, or "That's My Sex-Box and Her Name is Sony"

So a continually repeated reminder present in Reyman was the "it's not new, it's just a different manifest" that she begins on pg 4 and continues to explore through the copyright laws. It seems the phrase "these tensions are not new" is the phrase du jour.

What I found really really helpful, and what I want to touch on here, is her explication on pg 7 of what is at work in intellectual property issues as well as assumptions that under-gird it as well as how that is rhetorically framed. I finally understand what people mean about how the issue of production becomes the central concern and is then an issue of circulating discourse. And her tracing the scholarship on intellectual property was amazingly clear. When she claimed that the relationship between "technical architecture and social practice" is what renders come Internet technology "politically charged," a lot of things were cleared up for me. I found her tracing the history of intellectual property something I want to return to and reference again.

What I am still struggling with is the notion of "authorship" that becomes synonymous with creator or writer. I get that creation has always been linked to ownership, and a key historical example of ownership/creator has been the author, but I'm not sure how authorship becomes the de facto designation of owner or ownership. Maybe I'm overly misreading the nature of ownership that Reyman is talking about, but the connection between intellectual property and authorship seems to hinge on the assumption that it is productive to see owner the same as creator and distributor and author.

This is not to say that here aren't connections between these terms and what they produce; it is instead to say that I'm not sure how and why certain terms are being used and brought together under the larger category of "intellectual property." The issue becomes clearer to me in Logie's work in that he is encouraging tech comm. teachers to get students engaged in the intellectual property issues that impact their work--both positively and negatively. Especially since both Reyman & Logie seems to be fore-fronting the fact that the favor goes to the copyright holder at this time and that puts urgency on the role of author and the manifestations of authorship recalled above. This is where I wish I understood the difference Reyman & Logie is making between author, writer, creator and owner.

Finally, it is interesting to see how tech communicators are positioned as a kind of mediator, savior and expert for so many of the problems we've read about this semester. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Information Design & Keep in Mind for Project

  • don't try and solve all the problems of tech comm
  • deep and narrow
  • organization--don't put interesting and good thoughts at the end of the proposal: our slant, topic should be right up front
Krista's formula for proposals:
  • topic/concept (set your stuff apart through wit or something)
  • give relevance
  • expound
  • critical approach/apparatus
  • say who I am

"Presentatin makes sweet love to structure when conceiving an information vision": A Reality TV Show for Tech Comm

I have to start by saying: 10 gagillion points to tech comm scholarship for crafting such a wonderfully queer sentence, which I've adopted to my title--which, incidentally, is much longer than the blog title field would like it to be :)

Now to the more formal stuff. George Pullman and Baotong Gu contextualize the scholarship by claiming that content management (CM) is gaining both visibility and implementation and its impact on technical communicators makes it a concern for practitioners and scholars alike.  They argue that tech comm should be consulted on the implications of CM for three main reasons:
  1. it revolutionizes how we view tech comm
  2. there is a glaring lack of involvement on behalf of tech comm practitioners, researchers and teachers
  3. research in this area, albeit under a different nomenclature, is already being done as well as being implemented by tech comm designers in specific environments. Seems pretty reasonable that folks would be slightly pissed if stuff they were researching, designing and using was being implemented in other arenas without consultation and reflection. And at stake in CM debate is the separation of content from presentation, which Clark traces as far back as Aristotle specifically and Hart-Davidson evokes in the rhetorical tradition of techne.

What is at stake in the separation of content and presentation is various things:
  1. Pullman and Gu focus on how this impacts the tech communicator, who is in relation to CM in a range of ways: shut out laborer, silenced creator, training of both scholar and student, as well as rhetorical/critical prophesiers
  2. Hart-Davidson explores the implications it has "as a means to guide decisions making about the creation on knowledge" (10), which arguably has some far-reaching and powerful implications
  3. Anderson sees it as a point of possibility in which the tech communicator can insert themselves into and shape the ECM discourse; it is also a point to reflect critically about what ECM can really deliver both business and consumer in the way it divides, packages, distributes, appropriates or reifies the way in which work is done
  4. Whittemore takes a more labor based approach in examining how tech communicators are placed in relation to content, hoping to avoid a future of contingent labor and instead favor a future of reflective and critical investment on behalf of tech communicators in designing future CMSs
What undercuts them all is a sense that the content/presentation split is in fact not new, but a long debate about the nature of composing. Is content something that should be separated from form and function, making it more easily appropriated across multiple genres and situations? Or is the presentation of content part of the rhetorical efficacy of communication? Here Clark was particularly useful for me because he not only traces the various manifestations of the term CM, but also advocates for exploring the usage of the phrase on it own terms so to speak. And he argues that web design has in and of itself demanded that we embrace new relationships between content and presentation, which while difficult, has the advantage of expediting "creation, revision, and reuse" as well as "look to the future" of new contexts and site-specific demands on content and presentation (40). He ultimately argues that CM has and will continue to shape the way in which content and presentation are used and either separated or conjoined for differing purposes, but it means that tech communicators should "talk specifically about the technologies we are using and how they enable and limit our ability to help our users achieve their goals" (57).

I see quite a few parallels that put this concern into focus for me. For instance, Clark evokes Kinross as arguing that no presentation can be free of rhetoric, but that doesn't mean that a separation of concerns isn't a part of the technologies that we use. That separation in the case of HTML, as Clark shows, is a textual separation of visual style from content application. The risk we run, Clark argues is that genre will be viewed more statically, reinforced and then automated in a cut-and-paste kind of approach:
As a result, after implementing this type of separation, a significant part of the writing process becomes the negotiation of content across genres rather than simply within them, and writing is structured by the design and use of information models, rule sets, style sheets, and the technical infrastructure that maintains and enforces those models and rules and presents content whenever it is requested. (50)
I agree with Clark that a discussion of the implications of separating content from presentation seems in order. Indeed, what might this mean about our own teaching of genres (analysis, argument) and how does our pedagogy overlap concerns about CM?

Further, I'm struck by Andersen's discussion of the streamlining of information, which is actually a complex process of consolidating different departments, processes, content, authors into sets or series of applications that can be deployed across an organization. There is an analogue here between ECM and textbook publishing, all of which is concerned with a wide reach of information for a subset of a market, which hopes then to create an even larger, ubiquitous market of "process pedagogues" en mass. Is this the work of flattening we saw in last weeks discussion? In addition, Andersen's discussion of the sector of influence being embodied most in online magazines overlaps with both our discussion of textbooks in Steve's course, but also the circulation or publicity of a public opinion, with the eventual offshoot of a discipline of criticism that morphed into English studies as we discussed in Lois' course. Finally, the quality debate that Andersen explores is easily transferable to our own field in terms of a continued need to explore the implications of what we mean when we talk about a quality of writing.

That leads me to some crucial questions I had about this batch of readings:
  • How do the questions, terms of debate and implications change if tech comm shifts its signifier from writing to composing? 
  • How are the quick changes in technology (as indicated in Andersen's discussion of her article revisions attending to new updates to CM and ECM) part of issue of reflective or critical engagement with the rhetorical implications of CM? If we cannot slow down the speed of technology, how do we keep our scholarship from always being merely a call for us to slow down and analyze what's going on, which is in inherent contradiction or reaction to the speech of the subject we study?
  • What are connections and manifestations of these concerns (content and presentation separation, genre, authorship, the role of scholars and practitioners, writing or composing as rhetorical process) in our own field? What could we gain by exploring the connections?

Behind the Terministic Screen: Wait, That's Not Possible...

Gurak, Laura J. Persuasion and Privacy in Cyberspace. 1997.
Kirkpatrick, Marshall. "Facebook's Zuckerberg Says the Age of Privacy is Over." 2010. Read, Write, Web.
Wong, Phil. "Conversations About the Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee." 2010. The Rumpuss.
Zimmer, Michael. "Zuckerber's Remarks Aren't Surprising, Nor New, Nor True." 2010.

Even if every given term is a reflection of reality, by its very nature as a term, it must be a selection of reality; and to this extent it must function also as a deflection of reality --Burke Language is Symbolic Action

Connections abound! So Gurak does some interesting work with two case studies of online protests, Lotus and Clipper, noting the differences in community ethos, social action, texts and accountability. Context, Gurak argues, shapes how the individual anxieties about privacy and information accountability become full-scape online community debate, resulting in action against both private corporations and government agencies and individuals. Drawing on ancient rhetorical concepts of ethos and delivery, Gurak ties to give a general sweep of events as well as examine the intricacies that shaped each event. Gurak ultimately argues that 1) Lotus & Clipper illustrate actions of online communities, 2) both exemplify a new rhetorical entity: use of language stemmed from social action or “use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation” in a virtual space of new speed and reach (5).

While I understand the need to highlight how ancient rhetorical concepts play out in different spaces or events, I question whether the word "new" is really appropriate when we discuss online communication as a rhetorical entity? What is new about the fact that Gurak discusses the online debate about Lotus & Clipper as stemming from an exigence of public concern about an issue (privacy and information circulation)? Or what is innovative about the fact that information was then chosen and debated based on a sense of (extremely limiting) community ethos? After information went through a narrowing process, it was tailored to the community ethos, layered with assumptions about who cared about privacy and info circulation? Once there was a common value established (I'll touch on the implications of this verb in a minute) and trust was established (why wouldn't there be trust because they all presumably wanted the same thing?), social action was taken in form that best fit the rhetorical situation. And delivery was measured by community, message and perceived action that needed to be taken. I really don't mean to be reductive or dismissive, but how is this not "a good man speaking well [about stuff he knows about]"?

Gurak troubles that question and its assumptions by addressing credibility of information that circulates in communities of presumably homogeneous ethos. It would seem that emotion, fear and shared hatred brought folks together more than the truth about how Lotus and Clipper were or could actually function. And I found the moderator of the Privacy Forum Digest making some powerful rhetorical appeals about the nature of accuracy of information, taking the "high road" rather than appeasing emotional reactions, and the political versus ideological benefits of the game of sheer volume. And yet, here we see the vestiges of that old-school rhetoric again: that to seek the truth, we must do it through eloquence, moral fastidiousness and good behavior.

So I find myself stuck in a moment of not knowing what I believe in more: the ability for a community to band together and make emotional appeals to each other (preaching to the choir kind of thing), or the necessity of reason when debating, employing and delivering persuasion. What makes this dichotomy all the more frustrating is its gendered implications. That women are (forever?) connected to the emotive realm of persuasion, whereas men (naturally?) are equated to rationality is frustrating as hell. I appreciated Gurak's discussion of gender through discourse when it comes to online communication because we very quickly forgot the work of linguists who examined how gender has been reinforced, perceived and situated in lingual practices, and, as Gurak highlights, when you are dealing with online communication discourse is the visible marker of gender more so than the body. So I really appreciated that she addressed these issues which are always already present and have carried the exclusivity of the polis debate from the space of the polis to the space of the online group.

So I fail to see how apart from speed and place (which Gurak tries to divorce rhetoric from), the web functions as a particularly "new" space. Seems like same of situation, just a different day.

Finally, I chose the verb established and began this post with Burke because I am very interested in Gurak's choice to use community rather than explore implications of "the public" (damn you Habermas!) in that while the usenet groups often function as communities, it seems that she is really addressing ethos via the imagined public and its ethical values. Not sure if this is a distinction that is moot, but I'll take a stab at it anyway. It seems that community functions more to describe the confines of space and accessibility: if I am a computer user interested in privacy, I join certain listserves, usegroups and discussion boards, some free and open, but some not. Then when Lotus info drops, I circulate it to other areas with similar people interested in the issues that Lotus raises. Now, I'm not arguing that Lotus doesn't represent a host of issues, but as Burke notes, its not the complete issue Lotus that matters, but which screen we are reading it through. In the case of Lotus, that screen is privacy concerns. So I distribute it to my fellow computer and privacy community members. But the delivery, ethos and rhetorical appeals all seem to be more align with the public which I imagine on several levels: 1) the public that Lotus is gathering information for, 2) the public that has access to such information, 3) the public that then has interests and circulates that information and 4) then the community that is pissed enough to take social action against the event. It seems more logical to me to see the first three concentric circles on the level of imagined public because there is not guarantee that the people within these events actually have something in common (after all, Lotus had information for both trailer park residence and urban trendy couples, which is a pretty disparate group). It is when the issue is debated as something everyone has in common, in which everyone is pissed about in the same way, and everyone has a vested interested in changing that I feel it is representative to call the people a community.

To me its the same that Kirkpatrick, Zimmer and Wong address: the Facebook population might be considered a community, but founder Zuckerberg (and all three writers in response) is talking about how Facebook reflects trends in "the larger public" Zuckerber uses words like "people" and "public" when he discusses his stance on privacy (which is the other half of the public dichotomy, no?) policies and what users want. So while he is arguing that Facebook reflects the public, he cements or solidifies that the rhetorical appeals he makes are in response to a conception of "the public": what it wants, how it functions, what it demands from technology, and how Facebook should address that as a company giving consumers a product.

So while Gurak tries to divorce online communication from place and ancient notions of ethos and delivery, which I applaud and found hella intriguing, I can't help but wonder if "deliver" and "ethos" don't always already involve ancient conceptions. In other words, the only thing that seems "new" about Internet communication is our invested recapitulation that it is indeed "new".

Transformations Abound: Johnson-Eilola & Siebler, Spilka

I want to draw more heavily from Mirel's "Writing and Database Technology: Extending the Definition of Writing in the Workplace" than Spilka, although there are numerous connections between the two. The reason I am compelled to hang with Mirel is because her discussion of technology as a value-less medium for reporting data is an issue I most recently confronted in my WRT 105 course. I had assigned a CDC fact sheet on HIV in the US as of 2007, and students were to apply a heuristic they created based on Bartholomae & Petrosky's "Introduction: Ways of Reading" to the fact sheet. While I should not have been surprised realistically, I was alarmed when the discussion of the method of writing quickly dissolved into a debate about whether or not the CDC facts were argumentative. Further, many students felt that my comment that we could not trace the methods for which the CDC gathered their facts, thus making our discussion really about the presentation of their data rather than a comprehensive look at their methodology was grossly unfair. It further went without note that the CDC's references included its own results from previous studies. Finally, that the data was arranged on the fact sheet in order to persuade an audience and even influence how they felt or behaved in regards to HIV was a subject we could not resolve, but instead had to table in order to continue with the heuristic.

I can't help but write the summary with a leery tone, despite my best efforts. How can students not see that reporting the CDC's own data in the form of pie charts in which male-to-male transmission, African Americans, and intravenous drug users are high risk groups propagates a notion of HIV as not white, heterosexual or seemingly normal people's problem as well as connects to a long tradition of those particular groups having moral deficiencies? Further, after a student discusses at length how down low men's increasingly vital role in heterosexual transmission in minority populations was even a subject of an hour long Opera show, how can students not see that merely reporting HIV as a problem for African Americans and gays does not cover the complex intricacies of sexuality that are continually complicating every day people's mis-education about HIV? And better yet, how many of you even know what the hell I'm talking about, making not only the information I'm trying to grapple with, but the way I'm reporting that information a rhetorically complicated task, and thus in line with Mirel's discussion of reporting on information?

What was at the forefront of our class debate then was whether or not technical communicators invoke rhetoric when reporting data from the field (which field?). Many of my students believe, as Mirel points out, that the pie charts and CDC study's represent a mere objective reporting of the real situation of HIV. It is illogical, they would argue, that those statistics or even the way those statistics are gathered engages in rhetorical concerns, or went through a delivery process to imagined audience at a point in time under certain conditions (or assumptions). While I obviously find this position itself illogical, I can understand on many levels why it is preferred.

If the CDC has its own ends, means, method, methodology and even epistemology about HIV, then how will they, the students, ever know or know to trust info about HIV? In other words, if something as serious and scary as HIV is implicated in something like rhetoric, then what hope is there to ever DO something about it? Further, if we must be critical and examine how it is that the CDC, a government sponsored agency created to service the people and their health concerns, then what information about HIV is ever indisputable? Isn't HIV an issue in which we should have access (or even demand access) to indisputable facts? These aren't quite the naive questions I immediately assigned to my students, but instead are fair and logical questions in regards to cause and effect nature of information.

I agree completely with Mirel's suggestion that a pedagogy which plays with scales, or scaffolds the size of audience and task so that students move from more micro conceptions of data-to-audience reporting to macro conceptions is an important technique for teachers to utilize. However, I have a hard time seeing how scale will so neatly mitigate data reporting concerns that intersect so intimately with other personal factors, like sexuality, gender, race and economic class. If the CDC had reduced its study to only Syracuse, and the numbers they had reported still came up with high risk groups as being homosexuals, injecting drug users and African Americans, would that have made a difference in the way students conceive of risk and sexuality, habit, economics and race? Even if the numbers they had reported were not nationally comparable (that the high risk group was Caucasian, wealthy, heterosexual women), have my students understood the appeal that such data makes on behavior, as well as the connection between the arrangement of that data to important rhetorical decisions?

While this connection is not only my job, but also my raison de etre, this is a difficult connection to demonstrate. I wonder what the feasibility is of training tech communicators in the connection between rhetoric and data reporting without a four year study program in rhetoric? I mean, how besides the classroom, can this connection be implemented? Because while I struggle to help my student make the connection, in reality there are a large number of people who will not go through my (many would call torturous) 105 in which we use HIV as a course inquiry, nor will they go through a tech comm class in which the instructor is trained or wants to explore the connection. So I guess what I'm asking is whether this is a bit of a preaching to the choir kind of thing. While I found her contribution to the anthology incredibly insightful and helpful, how do other folks with a stronger sense of tech comm training or even tech comm workers and workplace conditions see her work as having any real contribution to the enterprise?

Discussion McKee & DeVoss, Digital Media

criterion for solid academic research:
lit review
genre convention
sound use of evidence
clear modes of data collection
weaknesses, contradictions, subjectivity
key definitions to terms
identifications of one's methods

How should we evaluate digital compositions?

pg 11 & pg 15 & pg 17

What do we assume when we research? What do we do when we end up with those criteria in digital spaces?

Ch 2 McKee & DeVoss

DePew "Through the Eyes of Researchers, Rhetors, and Audiences: Triangulating Data From the Digital Writing Situation

Major Assumptions:
  • many use textual analysis as methodology to pinpoint rhetorical situatin
  • textual analysis doesn't allow for outcome that rhetor intends
  • triangulation is an important methodological approach
  • data triangulation: sampling data from multiple sources
  • method triangulation: use various methods to collect data
  • rhetorical triangulation akin to feminist and postcritical in that acknowledgment of the researcher is a part of the method process
  • digital writing experiences are shaped by human choices
  • rhetorical situation gleaned through questions about rhetors intent, reception and context as well as research questions that researcher brings, which cannot be answered through textual analysis
Key Peeps:
  • McKee
  • DeWitt
  • Rouzie
  • Grabill
  • Haraway
  • Hawisher
  • Self
  • Denzin
  • Takayoshi
Key Questions:
  • How does the target audience (or secondary) respond to the text
  • Is the document well written for the context it was written in?
  • How would the document fair in another context?
  • Did the rhetor complete the intended outcomes? Why or why not?
  • How do users of a digital space articulate their experience, use or purpose of that space?
  • How do researchers negotiate reporting methodology? How do they negotiate adapting methodology for research inquiry?
  • How does digital writing shift the way we conceive of rhetoric?
Challenges/things to think through further for me:
Does it count as ethics of caring if we consider rhetor and audience in digital spaces rather than just the text?

This chapter got me thinking about the way that gay bars/clubs have represented themselves online. The Mystic's web page, for instance, is the bar owner's myspace page. Because myspace was set up for personal accounts, knowing the owner makes some of the page's details more comprehensible. In exploring ethnographic research on bars, how would the digital spaces of bars help to bring about the nuance of queer identities?

I have to admit that the idea of taking on digital stuff is...many words. I think the rebellious side of me tends to want to reject the idea of it because its so popular, but the idea of triangulation is appealing. Something to stew on.