Monday, August 27, 2012

Sherry Turkle--Connected, but alone?

Sherry Turkle has been writing about social interaction in the digital age for the last 30 years. Many  of her texts have become required reading for graduate students in new media, digital rhetoric, and communication. Turkle poses a simple question, do our technological devices actually make us less social?

The following video was recorded in Feb. 2012 for TED. Dr. Turkle and TED Conferences, LLC., maintain all copyrights.

Here is a more detailed blurb from her faculty profile at MIT:

"Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Professor Turkle is the author of Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution (Basic Books, 1978; MIT Press paper, 1981; second revised edition, Guilford Press, 1992); The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Simon and Schuster, 1984; Touchstone paper, 1985; second revised edition, MIT Press, 2005); Life on the Screen:  Identity in the Age of the Internet (Simon and Schuster, 1995; Touchstone paper, 1997); and Simulation and Its Discontents (MIT Press, 2009). She is the editor of three books about things and thinking, all published by the MIT Press: Evocative Objects: Things We Think With (2007);Falling for Science: Objects in Mind (2008); and The Inner History of Devices (2008).
Professor Turkle's most recent book is Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, published by Basic Books in January 2011. For media inquiries, go to:

Professor Turkle writes on the "subjective side" of people's relationships with technology, especially computers. She is an expert on mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics. Profiles of Professor Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York TimesScientific American, and Wired Magazine. She has been named "woman of the year" byMs. Magazine and among the "forty under forty" who are changing the nation by EsquireMagazine. She is a featured media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the BBC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as NightlineFrontline20/20, and The Colbert Report."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Two Extended Thoughts on the Relationship of Technology, Language and Media

I thought it made sense to place the print marketing materials up on the Power of Portrayal blog. If you haven't been to the UF campus recently and/or haven't received one of these in the mail, this is what they look like:

I suppose it's relevant to our theme to mention that the template in Blogger does not allow for PDF attachments, so I used a screen capture program to reconfigure these files and then upload them on the blog. This process reminded me of two relevant/related issues to considering how content is created/manipulated in digital environments in 2012: 

1) Templates ("seamless" layered manifestations of what we now know as Web 2.0) cloak the struggles that early pioneers of the Internet faced when creating their digital spaces. In Web 1.0, bandwidth, technology and memory restrictions limited digital authors. Early web "autobiographers," e.g., Justin Allyn Hall (“Justin's Links from the Underground”) , used HTML encoded text to create their dynamic personal websites. These early Web 1.0 authors, by necessity, had a general knowledge of HTML code and an understanding of its limitations.

For example, imagine a web author like Hall writing his digital autobiography in January 1994 before web-design computer programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver were available. Hall decides that he wants a simple webpage—a header and three short sentences to appear on the computer monitor as follows:

Justin’s Self Reflection

Justin is bold

  Justin is big

    Justin is under and over

In order to make the text above appear on a “live” webpage (a webpage accessible anywhere via the Internet) with the formatting he has chosen, he must type the following HTML code:

                    <h1>Justin’s Self Reflection </h1>
                  <font size=“2” face=“Times New Roman”>
                        <p><b> Justin is bold</b></p>
                        <p><big> Justin is big</big></p>
                        <font size=“2” face=“Times New Roman”>
                        <p> Justin is<sub> subscript</sub> and <sup>superscript</sup></p>                                          

Since “WYSIWYG” (what you see is what you get) web-authoring programs including Dreamweaver do not exist in January 1994, everything Hall writes has to be manually coded. If he wants just the words “Justin is bold” on his webpage, he has to type “<html> <body>” to begin his page, “<font size=“2” face=“Times New Roman”>” to use 12 point, Time New Roman font, “<p><b> Justin is bold</b></p>” to place the text in bold, and “</body> </html>” to finish the page. In other words, all of the basic formatting functions Web 2.0 authors assume are transparent and seamless were part of a laborious web authoring process that acted to discourage the less committed and less technologically savvy autobiographers.

The increasing availability of Web 2.0 technological features after the year 2000, however, made the process of web authoring much more user-friendly. These features provided online autobiographers with an opportunity to circumvent coding in HTML if they wished. Sophisticated web-design programs, Dreamweaver, etc., with their convenient screen templates and relatively easy learning curves encouraged more people to consider constructing their own pages because knowledge of HTML coding was no longer a prerequisite skill. In some ways, these programs replicate the basic functions of universally popular word processing programs like Microsoft Word allowing for a transfer of skills from one well-known computer program (Word) to a lesser-known computer program (Dreamweaver).


2) To say I uploaded "print" marketing materials for the Power of Portrayal is a misnomer at best. The postcard above was born digital. The text was drafted in Microsoft Word, the photo was taken with a digital camera, and the design and layout was created in Adobe InDesign. The print product is now only a manifestation of the original digital process and finished product. This is not terribly profound in and of itself. We have been creating text and most other media through digital means for the better part of the last two decades. This technological progression (and let's be clear, this does not mean technological determinism), however, has in many ways disrupted not only the primacy and ethos of print as a privileged form of media, but it has also permanently changed what we expect from our media experiences on both the producing and consuming ends of the spectrum.

To give this a bit more perspective, in The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), Marshall McLuhan observed that every communication medium or technology including alphabets, printing presses, and speech affects the expression of thought through language. McLuhan’s protégé and eventual critic, Walter Ong, noted in Orality and Literacy (1982), the transformation from speech to writing that took place several thousand years ago removed text from the world of sound and “reconstituted the originally oral spoken word in visual space” (121). And the shift from the handwritten manuscripts of the Middle Ages to the mechanically produced printed books of the fifteenth century, meticulously detailed by Elizabeth Eisenstein in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1980), effected widespread cultural changes including the preservation of knowledge, the accumulation of information, and the widespread dissemination of ideas in a cheap and efficient manner. Certainly, technological transformations of text are not new phenomena exclusive to the current age of digital media. As language gravitated first from the spoken word to crude stone tablets, from stone tablets to papyrus scrolls, from papyrus scrolls to the handwritten codex, and eventually from codex manuscript to the printed book, each successive “technologizing”[i] of the word altered the relationship between the speaker (writer) and the audience (reader). The migration of text from print to a digital format is the latest of these textual transformations.

[i] Cf. Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (1982).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dates for the fall semester Wilkin reading group

Dr. Fell has graciously allowed me to use her home for our Wilkin reading group. Our text in the fall is The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson, which has been placed on reserve in Shafer Library. There are two copies available for seven days at a time. 

I've enclosed the dates and times for the Wilkin reading group below:

Sept. 12 @ 3:05pm
Oct 10 @ 3:05pm
Nov 7 @ 3:05pm
Dec 5 @ 3:05pm

You're not dead yet...your digital persona lives on.

A fascinating video on the TED website discussing what happens to your digital artifacts after your dead. 

Adam Ostrow: After your final status update

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Truncated Reading List

Below is a truncated list of sources relevant to our discussion; the sources are separated by bold markers. The original MLA bibliographic indentation was altered by the format of the blog.

Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric,   Community, and Culture of Weblogs. June 2004. Web. 10 June 2005. <http://
Asher, Lyell. “The Dangerous Fruit of St. Augustine’s Confessions.” Journal of the           American Academy of Religion 66.2 (1998): 227-255. Print.
Ashley, Kathleen, et al., eds. Autobiography and Postmodernism. Amherst,            Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994. Print.
Badger, Meredith. "Visual Blogs." Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and          Culture of Weblogs." Ed. Laura J. Gurak, Smiljana Antonijevic, Laurie Johnson,          Clancy Ratliff, and Jessica Reyman. June 2004. Web. 10 April 2005 <http://
Bakhtin, Mikhail. The Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Minneapolis: University of          Minnesota Press, 1999. Print.
---. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M. Bakhtin. Austin, Texas:           University of Texas Press, 1983. Print.
---.  Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Tr. Vern W. McGee, ed. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986. Print.
Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print.      New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001. Print.
Brown, Peter. St. Augustine of Hippo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.        Print.
Charney, David. “The Effect of Hypertext on Processes of Reading and Writing.”             Literacy and Computers: The Complications of Teaching and Learning with    Technology. Eds. Cynthia L. Selfe and Susan Hilligoss. New York: MLA, 1994.      238-263. Print.
Conway, Jill Kerr. When Memory Speaks: Reflections on Autobiography. New York:         Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. Print.
Coullie, Judith. “Not Quite Fiction: The Challenges of Poststructuralism to the Reading    of Contemporary Autobiography.” Current Writing. 3. (1991): 57-69. Print.
---. “(Dis)Locating Selves: Izibongo and Narrative Autobiography in South            Africa.  Oral Literature and Performance in South Africa. Ed. Duncan Brown.    London and Cape Town: James Currey and David Philip, 1999. Print.
de Man, Paul. “Autobiography as Defacement” Comparative Literature. 94:5 (1979): 919-930. Print.      
Dillon, A. and  B. A. Gushrowsk. “Genres and the Web: Is the Personal Home Page the    First Uniquely Digital Genre?” Journal of the American Society for Information      Science 51:2 (2000): 202-205. Print.
Eisenstein, Elizabeth. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Cambridge, United         Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Print.
Eakin, Paul John. Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention.     Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. Print.
Egan, Susanna. Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography. Chapel      Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. Print.
Gaggi, Silvio. From Text to Hypertext: Decentering the Subject in Fiction, Film, the           Visual Arts and Electronic Media. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,         1997. Print.
Gay, Volney. “St. Augustine: The Reader as Selfobject.” Journal for the Scientific Study    of Religion (1986): 64-76. Print.
Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.        New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003. Print.
Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life. New York: Anchor           Books, 1959. Print.
Gurak, Laura J. Cyberliteracy: Navigating the Internet with Awareness. New Haven:          Yale University Press, 2001. Print.
---. Persuasion and Privacy in Cyberspace. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997.        Print.
Grusin, Richard. “What Is an Electronic Author?” Virtual Realities and Their         Discontents. Robert Markley, ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1996.             39-53. Print.
Hafner, Katie. “I Link Therefore I Am: A Web Intellectual’s Diary.” New York Times 22 July 1999. n. pag. Web. 20 May 2009.
Hawisher, Gail, et al. Computers and the Teaching of Writing in American Higher Education. Stamford, CT: Ablex, 1996. Print.
Hawisher, Gail & Cynthia Selfe, (Eds.). Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century    Technologies. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1999. Print.
Hayles, Kathleen N. Writing Machines. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002. Print.
Hobhouse, Janet. Everybody Who Was Anybody. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1975.    Print.
Inman, James. Computers and Writing: The Cyborg Era. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2004.      Print.
Jay, Paul. Being in the Text: Self-Representation from Wordsworth to Roland Barthes. Cornell, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984. Print.
Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. “Reading and Writing in Hypertext: Vertigo and Euphoria.”       Literacy and Computers: The Complications of Teaching and Learning with    Technology. Eds. Cynthia L. Selfe and Susan Hilligoss. New York: MLA, 1994.      195-219. Print.
Joyce, Michael. Of Two Minds: Hypertext, Pedagogy and Poetics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996. Print.
Kress, G. and Van Leeuwen, T. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design.             London: Routledge, 1996. Print.
Lanham, Richard A. The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology and the Arts.   Chicago, U of Chicago Press, 1993. Print.
Lejeune, Phillipe. Le pacte autobiographique. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1975. Print.
Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in the Connected            World. New York: Random House, 2001. Print.
---. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. New York: Basic Books, 2001. Print.
Lusebrink, Hans-Jurgen. “The Dynamics of Autobiography: From Anthropological            Anchorage to the Intercultural Horizons.” Mot Pluriels. 23 (March 2003): 1-11.           Print.
Murray, J. H. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narratives in Cyberspace.     Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997. Print.
Olney, James. Metaphors of Self: The Meaning of Autobiography. Princeton, NJ:    Princeton University Press, 1972. Print.
---., ed. Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980. Print.
Olson, David. The World on Paper. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print.
Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. New York:   Routledge, 1982. Print.
Padover, Saul., ed. Confessions and Self-Portraits: 4600 Years of Autobiography. New      York: The John Day Company, 1957. Print.
Pascal, Roy. Design and Truth in Autobiography. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul,    1960. Print.
Porter, James E. “Legal and Ethical Issues in Cyberspace.” Rhetorical Ethics and   Internetworked Writing. London: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1998. 101-31.            Print.
Rouet, Jean-Francios, Jarmo J. Levonen, Andrew Dillon, and Rand J. Spiro, Eds. Hypertext and Cognition. Mahwah: Erlbaum, 1996. Print.
Sampson, Geoffrey. Writing Systems. London: Hutchinson, 1985. Print.
Schreibman, Susan. “Computer-mediated Texts and Textuality: Theory and Practice.”       Computers and the Humanities. 36.3 (2002): 283-293. Print.
Simon, Linda., ed. Gertrude Stein: A Composite Portrait. New York: Avon Books, 1974.
---., ed. Gertrude Stein Remembered. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press,     1994. Print.
Smith, Sidonie. A Poetics of Women’s Autobiography: Marginality and the Fictions of        Self-Representation.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Print.
Smith, Sidonie and Julia Watson. Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life    Narratives. University of Minnesota Press, 2001. Print.
Spengemann, William. The Forms of Autobiography. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale         University Press, 1980. Print.
Sullivan, Laura. “Hypertextualizing Autobiography” Kairos. 1.3 (1996): Web. 25 Sept.     2005 <>.
Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon      and Schuster, 1995. Print.
Voloshinov, Valentin. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, MA:            Harvard University Press, 1986. Print.
Warley, Linda. “Reading the Autobiographical in Personal Home Pages.” Tracing the        Autobiographical. Ed. Marlene Kandar. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier             University Press, 2005. 25-42. Print.
Watts, Jane. Black Writers from South Africa: Towards a Discourse of Liberation. London: St Antony’s/Macmillan, 1989. Print.
Weintraub, Karl. “Autobiography and Historical Consciousness.” Critical Inquiry 1.4        (1975): 821-848. Print.
---. The Value of the Individual: Self and Circumstance in Autobiography.    Chicago:          University of Chicago Press, 1978. Print.
Wilcox, Helen, ed. Women and Literature in Britain, 1500-1700. Cambridge, UK:             Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.
Wysocki, Anne, et al. Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the       Teaching of Composition. Logan: Utah State Univ. Press, 2004. Print.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake. “Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key.” CCC 56.2 (2004): 297-328. Print.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ideological Foundations for The Power of Portrayal--the 2012-2013 Wilkin Chair Theme

In Race and Culture, Robert Ezra Park wrote, “It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person,[i] in its first meaning, is a mask. It is rather a recognition of the fact that everyone is always and everywhere, more or less consciously, playing a role… It is through these roles that we know each other; it is in these roles that we know ourselves” (249). We do indeed play many roles and identity formation is a continuous process. In constructing the self we present to others, we rely on many models of identity formation: work, family, friends, personal achievements, travel, hobbies, cathartic events, etc. And representation of our “self” is always influenced by social interaction—both real and imagined.

My research interest in self-presentation is rooted in its literary and rhetorical manifestations—specifically, what has been loosely defined as “autobiography,” and more generally, what might be called “autobiographical elements.” These elements are the various oral, textual and graphical artifacts we use to create, alter, and maintain the self we present to others. Whether these artifacts be pictures on Flickr, videos on YouTube, Podcasts on StoryCorps, content edits in Wikipedia, “tweets” in Twitter, blog threads on WordPress, wall posts on facebook, or even personal search histories on Google, they serve to approximate an organic conception of the self. It this digital self, created consciously and unconsciously, that will serve as the primary focus for this year's Wilkin Chair events at UF.

Let's start with a basic question(s) and a quote: 

How do you represent yourself in our contemporary digital age? What tools do you use? What artifacts do you use? How do you "control" your image?

You are of course never yourself.
Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography

[i] Emphasis mine.