Things to Think About Catch-Up

Since we’re using the blog network as our central course site, it occurred to me that emailing things to think about for each class session really isn’t in keeping with that spirit.  So I’m going to post what would have otherwise been those emails now as blog posts going forward. In keeping with that, below are the bodies of the four previous emails I sent you, so they’ll all be in one place.

For Thursday, 8 September

phaedrusFirst, if you have not yet sent me the link to your blog, please do so as soon as possible.
For next time, I’d like to bring another medium into the mix, writing, as a one under development around the same general time as we’re studying this week (i.e., between 2000 BCE and 500 CE). Here are two items I’d like you to look at in that context:
  • An excerpt from another Platonic dialogue, the Phaedrus.  (The link points to a Google doc.) In this passage, once again, Socrates is critical of the value of writing as a new medium.
  • The web tool, Freedom’s Ring, I mentioned in class that shows written text revisions alongside an audio recording of the live speech. Again, it provides an intriguing way to experience King’s live speech by displaying text on screen, both spoken and written.
As you read/listen to these items, continue to consider how speech is valuable to its users and listeners as a medium of communication.  What affordances of speech have we not yet discussed but should? Are there aspects of transmission and ritual approaches to communication on display in these texts? How so?
Beyond that, we should start to talk about the affordances of writing.  (To clarify, we’re not yet talking about print – that is, mechanical reproduction of letters – but writing, or using some kind of stylus in the hand (pen, pencil, chalk, quill, etc.) to produce letters.  We’ll talk about print specifically next week.)
Of course you may also post a daily question today or tomorrow, and/or ping your fellow students who have already posted dailies and/or text responses to their blogs.

For Tuesday, 6 September

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbFor next time, a few things:
  • Each of us needs to create a blog for the course. To do that, you can follow the instructions on the main page of the site, or if that’s confusing, contact me and I’ll walk you through it.
  • Once you have a blog created, email me the link so I can add it to a list on the “mother blog” I’ve created for the course (
  • Read the Portfolio Assignment document from top to bottom. Email or raise in class on Tuesday any questions you have about it.
  • Consider writing a Weekly on Kelly and/or Carey. Also don’t forget about Dailies.
  • Read Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” Parts 1-3 only (rest is more technical), linked on the schedule.
  • Read Plato’s Gorgias (linked on the schedule).  It is written as a dialogue, so you may need to look more carefully to tease out the threads of the argument within.
  • Think about the relationship between the story Kelly told about the origins of humanity (especially the “singularity” of the beginnings of language) and the idea Carey puts forth about the role of communication (including language) as a ritual of sharing and community building:
    • How are those ideas reflected in the ways Aristotle and Plato write about the power of persuasion through speech?
    • In what ways must society and culture have been different with a significant absence of writing?
    • What are Plato’s and Aristotle’s (Plato’s student) views of rhetoric as a tool (technology) for communication?  Do they see it similarly?

For Thursday, 1 September

3-important-elearning-tools-to-encourage-communityFor our next class meeting, we need to do two primary things: discuss Kelly’s and Carey’s perspectives on communication, and identify a tool that will work for us this semester.
(Also note: I did say in class that we’d be reading Aristotle and Plato for next time, but that’s next week not next class; there is not a new reading for Thursday if you’ve already read Kelly and Carey).
So for Thursday, I’d like you to do the following:
  • Based on feedback from the groups today, it looks like we have a handful of candidates.  For each of the five options below, I’d like you to watch/read the materials I’ve linked to and then decide which are your top two preferences from among them:
  • Look back over Kelly and Carey with the following questions specifically in mind:
    • In what ways do these two essay see the world similarly?
    • In what ways do they differ?
    • Could you develop a coherent argument about communication, media, and technology using these two chapters as your starting point? Explain.
Be prepared to talk about both of these items (your preferences for a class site and your take on the connections between Kelly and Carey) on Thursday.

For Tuesday, 30 August

what_technology_wants_book_cover_artThanks for a good start to the semester on Thursday; lots of good engagement with some abstract concepts like “media” and “technology.” 🙂
Here are the things I’d like you to do for Tuesday’s class:
  • Read the Syllabus and Schedule (linked on the course landing page on my blog) and write down any questions you have.  (We’ll talk about the Portfolio Assignment in class on Tuesday, so you can save your questions about that specifically.)
  • Read this chapter by James W. Carey on ways to conceptualize the process of communication.  As you read, consider how this approach could be applied to different media – such as print, motion pictures, and the internet – similarly and differently.  What can this help us understand about why different media have been prominent at different times in our cultural history?
  • Read chapter 2 of Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants (pp.21-41). As you read, think about both how much our collective approaches to technology have changed but also how much is similar now to what it was in earlier eras.  How many of the technologies described by Kelly are still in use in some form today?  What can we learn from that?
If you have any questions or these links don’t work for you for some reason, please let me know.

Remember that you also each need to complete your short research assignment to provide us with some basic details about the network community tool you chose so we can vote on our preferences this week.

To that end, I’ve posted the questions I’d like you to answer (briefly; no need to go into exhaustive detail for this assignment, but you should answer them) to the course home page on my blog, along with a link to a web form in which you can enter the answers you find.
So that makes four items for Tuesday: read the course documents, read Carey, read Kelly, and complete the community tool form. 🙂

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