Archive for November, 2003

Academic Blogging at Duke

While tracking down some references for my blogging article, I came across a reference (PDF) to my course blog on a Duke University resource about “academic blogging.” Actually, the file is a useful handout that I might return to in the future.

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I am an Architect

Winding down for the night, I decdide to take an online version of the Myers-Briggs Personality Test after reading about it on Torill’s blog.


INTP – “Architect”. Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 3.3% of total population.

Take Free Myers-Briggs Personality Test

I’m a little too tired to analyze the results of the test (and I should probably either be working on my paper or sleeping), but whenever I take this test, my results in the “thinking/feeling” opposition are usually right on the border. No surprise that I’m leaning toward “thinking” right now given that I’m in (almost) full paper-writing mode.

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Writer’s Block

I’ve been working (somewhat frantically) on finishing my blogging paper, and I’m finding it rather difficult to write about blogging outside my blog. I’m not sure if it’s because of the inability to hyperlink or if it’s the struggle between the ephemerality of the blog entry against the more solid traditional essay.

I’ll get it done, but writing in the essay medium (rather than the blog entry) really changes how I write about blogs.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

My life continues to take a turn toward the extraordinarily busy, but I hope that everyone is having a great holiday (those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, that is).

Memorable Thanksgiving image: After a Thanksgiving prayer in which a family patriarch identifed the United States as a Christian nation, my dad, complaining privately to me about the patriarch’s lack of historical understanding, says “I thought the US was founded on freedom of religion.” Sometimes my dad is very cool.

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The Turing Game

I wish somebody had told me that there is a version of the Turning Game online “here” at Georgia Tech. This would be a great student activity for talking about gender performance on the Internet. Instead, I learned about it through reading misbehaving.net.

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Shattered Glass

Just wanted to mention that I happened to watch Shattered Glass (IMDB) the other night when I was taking a break from working. Shattered stars Hayden Christensen as Stephen Glass, the New Republic writer who fabricated details in 27 of his 41 published stories. The low-budget feature (partially financed by Canadian grant money) uses a verite style to convey the Glass story, giving the film a sense of immediacy that seems crucial to the story and leading to comparisons with other investigative journalism features such as All the President’s Men.

There is some logic to the comparison. After all, for a significant section of the film, we follow web journalists Adam Penenberg (Steve Zahn) and Anide Fox (Rosario Dawson) as they begin to break the story, tearing apart a Glass article on hackers fact-by-fact. But Glass, written and directed by Billy Ray, lacks the earlier film’s self-righteousness.

The film is certainly critical of Glass’ actions and celebrates the ethical stance taken by NR editor Charles Lane when the charges against Glass were revealed to be true. However, instead of taking the obvious route and pushing for greater ethical scrutiny, Ray’s film seems to focus instead on office politics, especially the cult of personality associated with a charming figure such as Glass. During early sequences of the film, Glass is careful to compliment members of the office staff, including receptionists and assistants, and accepts praise for his work with what Roger Ebert calls “bashful narcissism.”

Gradually, after beloved editor Michael Kelly (who was later killed while covering the war in Iraq) leaves NR, the mood and focus of the film begins to shift, focusing in part on the Internet journalists who are bringing down the star writer for the major magazine and on the ethical dilemmas faced by the reticent new editor “Chuck” Lane. As the truth begins to emerge, a darker picture of Glass develops. He first plays the office against Lane, using his charm to breifly sustain himself against any kind of punishment; Glass’ colleagues speak on his behalf, telling Lane that Glass had been “working too hard,” that it was a misunderstanding. In this sense, the film seems to be more about office politics than about journalistic ethics, at least in my reading. At the same time, the film belongs to a very specific cultural moment when web journalism was finally being recognized as a legitimate news source.

The performances were all solid, especially Christensen as Glass, Peter Sarsgaard as Lane, and Hank Azaria as Michael Kelly. The only real “false” moment for me was when Lane walks into the staff meeting the morning after firing Glass to a round of applause (the scene is crosscut with Glass imagining–or maybe remembering–the applause of a high school journalism class), completely vindicated in his moral stance.

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Chemistry Online and Off

Jennifer Egan, author of one of my favorite recent novels, Look at Me, has an article in today’s New York Times Magazine on the challenges and expectations associated with online dating. It’s pretty interesting stuff with references to Spring Street, Match, and Friendster, and discussions of “serial dating” and deceptive profiles.

I’ve dabbled in the online dating scene a few times (I’m currently taking a break), so I’m always interested in articles that might tell me more about my habits. But I’m most intrigued by her interviews with “Regan,” a technical writer living in Atlanta who uses Salon.com’s dating service (part of the Spring Street network), in part because I think I may have dated her once. It would have been about a year ago, and there was no “chemistry” (Egan’s subtle analysis of this online dating buzzword is one of the strongest moments in the article) so we never communicated after that first meeting. I’m not entirely sure that I’m remembering correctly which probably says something about my terrible memory or about my desire to be immortalized (however obscurley) in the New York Times.

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Stay Tuned

If blogging really is like television, then most of you, dear readeres, would be fiddling with the antenna or calling your cable company trying to get a better signal. Or maybe, you’d just change the channel….

The last few days have been incredibly busy with writing an article (and starting a second one), applying for jobs, and grading papers all requiring serious attention and energy, which has left me feeling like I’m neglecting my blog. I know these other things are more important in the long run, but I do feel a sense of frustration when I’m not writing regularly to the chutry experiment. I know the frustration has something to do with feeling conscious of time rushing past and being unable to unpack an idea or even to review a film (not that I’ve had time to see very many). It may be that my consciousness of time via blogging–my attempt to impose a coherent narrative over something that is decidedly chaotic and random–is at odds with my current experience of things. Or maybe I’m just really tired.

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I Guess Visibility Really is a Trap

Following KF’s lead, I was curious to find out what twentieth century theorist I am. The answer may surpise you (it surprised me):

Read the rest of this entry »

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Intelligent Life

Just came across a local blogger that I want to add to my blogroll once it’s up and running again. Chris, of Intelligent Life, works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here in Atlanta and frequently writes about film and cultural topics.

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Contact Zones

How weird… After reading Lisa Parks’ essay on the Digital Earth project (anthologized in The Visual Culture Reader), I ran a quick Google search for people writing on blogging and Mary Louise Pratt’s discussion of “contact zones” and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Patrick, my former student, wrote an essay on the topic in his other freshman writing course. Check out the search results here.

In yet another happy accident, Patrick quotes the very passage that sparked my interest in the first place: Pratt defines contact zones as “social spaces where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other.” Like Patrick, I think Pratt’s definition of contact zones might represent one of the best aspects of blogging, allowing these tensions to play themselves out in a productive way.

More later if this approach continues to spark my interest.

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Grid Blogging

I’d almost forgotten to mention that I’ll be participating in Ashley Benigno’s proposed grid blogging event on December 1. He offers a mini-manifesto for grid blogging:

“Grid blogging aims to investigate the potentials of a distributed media production model spread across blogosphere nodes. It seeks to ignite attention on specific topics at set times through variegated voices. A kind of decentralised flash mobbing for the mind, if you like.

Decentralisation is key here. Unlike single collaborative blogging structures that unite discussions under the same URL, Grid blogging is about synchronized guerrilla publishing attacks carried out across a series of online locations. It respects and heightens the individual voice within a media-wise choir. It allows for idea-jamming and mosaics of diverse perspectives to emerge unfettered.

Temporary in nature, the first grid blog is set to happen on December 1. The topic is the “brand”. Interpret it as you like, from the comfort of your own blog. As critique, as recollection, as original content, as link-fest or visual interpretation. Whatever. Join in and help us discover where we can lead this dance.”

Looks like a cool group of bloggers is planning to participate. Stay tuned.

(Slightly edited from the original…)

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Visual Multitasking at the Movies

Julie Talen’s Pretend sounds like an incredible film, using multiple frames in a DV format to portray several possible narratives. Here’s hoping it makes it to Atlanta in the near future.

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Best Directors List

I’m not a big fan of “Best of…” lists, but I found The Guardian’s list of the 40 Best Film Directors somewhat disappointing. Established American directors (Lynch, Scorsese, the Coens, Soderbergh…) filled most of the top slots while Asian, African, and Eastern European directors were almost completely missing. Certainly the film industries aren’t as strong, but these omissions simply reinforce the weakness of non-Hollywood cinemas. There were several major omissions (among major independents), including Jane Campion, Atom Egoyan, Hal Hartley, and Spike Lee. I was pleased to see Errol Morris listed, and I’m jonesing to see his new documentary on Robert McNamara.

Then again, at least Spielberg didn’t make the list (no permalink).

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Maybe I Shouldn’t Blog About That Wild Party…

From the Onion: What happens when your mother finds your blog?

Widmar said that the idea of his mother immersing herself in the boring details of his life is just as frightening as the idea of her discovering his misconduct.

“Really, the blog is just a record of what I think about the world and how I spend my free time,” Widmar said. “In other words, exactly the sort of information that no 30-year-old wants his mom to have access to.”

Brief silence, except for a few crickets chirping in the background follwed by thousands of people scrolling their archives for incriminating details.

Check out KF’s entry on the same article.

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